Leading metal additive manufacturing (AM) technology company Velo3D has provided an ‘end-to-end solution’ to Pratt & Whitney (P&W), a Raytheon Technologies (Raytheon) business, for the manufacture of production jet engine components.

Announced yesterday (12th July), the deal will see Velo3D supply P&W with its Sapphire XC printer, transforming the supply chain associated with jet engine component manufacturing. 

Companies in the US have been encouraged to explore and adopt AM following the launch of President Biden’s AM Forward initiative, which aims to advance the technology by investing in regional manufacturing ecosystems and tech hubs. 

By exploiting its ability to handle gradient materials and micro-structures, manufacturers could use AM to revolutionise the traditional aerospace industry. 

One of the main advantages of AM technology is its ability to produce repeatable and consistent parts compared with traditional ‘subtractive’ manufacturing. 

The California-based Velo3D uses AM to create a structure by adding layer upon layer, mirroring aspects of design present in nature such as coral reefs and honeycombs.

Velo3D's Sapphire XC printer

Velo3D’s Sapphire XC printer

Source: Velo3D

“Metal additive manufacturing can transform aviation and space systems by delivering unprecedented part consolidation, lighter weight components, and more efficient systems,” said Benny Buller, Founder, CEO, Velo3D. 

Speaking about P&W’s adoption of the Sapphire XC printer, he added, “We’re eager to see how they innovate their most mission-critical designs using our end-to-end solution, and how the economies of scale of an in-house system help increase addressable use-cases.” 

Raytheon has committed to seek small-medium-enterprise manufacturers’ involvement in over 50% of its requests for quotes on products manufactured using additive technologies. 

As one of the main forces behind the AM Forward White House initiative, the multi-billion-dollar aerospace giant is a strong proponent of 3D printing. 

By scaling production on parts such as heat exchangers, stators, and nozzles, the small and diverse suppliers who make up nearly half of Raytheon’s supply chain can help the company reduce the complexity of its parts, hastening development times. 

Calibrated to print in Inconel 718 – a nickel-based superalloy – P&W’s new Sapphire XC printer is ideally designed to print components suited for extreme temperatures. 

“Pratt & Whitney looks forward to future applications using the Sapphire XC printer and collaborations with other potential suppliers with the Velo3D capability, for P&W GTF and advanced engine programmes,” said Jesse Boyer, fellow, AM, P&W.

In addition to its uses in aerospace, Velo3D’s AM solutions could help revolutionise industrial gas tech production.

Read more: 3D printing, the future of industrial gas tech production?