AS9100-certified shop to produce high-value AM parts for aerospace, oil & gas, energy
CINCINATTI, Ohio – Vertex Manufacturing, a Cincinnati-based contract manufacturer, has purchased a second end-to-end additive manufacturing solution from VELO3D Inc.—this time dedicated to the superalloy Hastelloy-X. Vertex is the first contract manufacturer to own a VELO3D system that processes this high-performance material. The company acquired a VELO3D solution for Inconel 718 alloy, in June.
Vertex was created by industry pioneers, originally of Morris Technologies, with a mission to help customers needing advanced manufacturing solutions for both development and production programs. Staffed by experts with decades of experience in materials, methods and quality, Vertex offers a range of services in addition to additive manufacturing (AM), including advanced multi-axis CNC machining, rapid castings and final inspection of manufactured parts.
The decision to purchase a Sapphire Hastelloy-X of their own was definitely a forward-looking one for Vertex, says the company’s vice president, Tim Warden. “We chose VELO3D because we view this system as being a great fit for a number of applications that we couldn't build today with our current additive machines. While our Inconel 718 Sapphire machine will fit the needs of many industries, there’s more of a niche market for the incoming Hast-X machine that will allow our customers with specialized needs for high-temperature, high-pressure, long-lifetime applications in the aerospace, and industrial gas turbine markets."
Hastelloy-X is not a heat-hardened material, so it doesn’t become brittle at high temperatures, and its high oxidation resistance provides durability over many years of continuous use. “3D-printed Hast-X provides unique, robust, material qualities. Combining this with the fact that Vertex is AS9100 certified it will allow us to help our customers take programs from development to production much quicker,” says Warden.
Planning to acquire more AM equipment in the future (after the Hastelloy-X install next month), Steve Rengers, president of Vertex, describes his company’s partnership with VELO3D as an evolving one. “We’re interested in VELO3D because we value innovation, and we see them as a leader of innovation among advanced LPBF systems,” he says. “VELO3D’s technology—the non-contact recoater, and the ability to do challenging geometries without supports—is a differentiator. That’s what Vertex is all about as well, so it’s a great collaborative relationship we’re looking to expand upon.”
Benny Buller, founder and CEO of VELO3D, is enthusiastic about the partnership. “We have a true meeting of the minds with Vertex about the potential for AM to boost innovation and transform manufacturing in so many exciting ways,” he says. “Accessing end-to-end advanced 3D printing through a contract manufacturer is a valuable option for OEMs of every size looking to optimize supply chain efficiency.”
Rengers agrees, and views the future of AM as an accelerating one. “We’re going to continue to see product development cycles shorten as AM has a significant impact on reducing manufacturing times,” he says. “This will be in defense-critical areas such as hypersonics as well as more traditional aerospace and aviation. We’re also seeing a lot of movement happening in areas such as alternative energy, remote-energy, and the extension of human lifestyle quality through orthopedic implants—and we are building our business supporting those needs with the best technology available.”
Going forward, Vertex will remain closely attuned to the pull of customer requests, Rengers says, rather than pushing them towards specific technologies. “Depending on the paths they’re taking, those are the machines and materials we will invest in,” he says. “As Vertex expands, the keys to innovation rely on the best people, the best processes, and the best equipment—and VELO3D is an important piece of that puzzle for us.”