VELO3D announced the availability of a new alloy of aluminum for use in their Sapphire series of metal 3D printers.
The California company has been quietly developing new materials for the Sapphire system, which recently gained a new, tall option. The stretch version of the Sapphire 3D printer sports a 1m tall build volume, and can 3D print any of VELO3D’s support metal materials. We’ll have some thoughts about that machine in a future post, but before we can get to that they’ve already announced a new material, Aluminum F357.
Aluminum is available in a number of alloys for 3D printing, but the most frequently used aluminum powder has been AlSi10Mg. However, VELO3D’s Aluminum F357 offers some different properties. One of the most notable is that it can be anodized.
Anodization is the process of building up an oxide layer on the surface of a metal part. This is quite useful for protecting the metal from corrosion or providing a better surface for painting. Anodizing using dyes can also provide a baked-in color surface that we’ve all seen on metal objects.
Aluminum F357 apparently also shares some properties with Aluminum A356. A356 is a well-known casting alloy that provides great strength. The material is also known for its weldability. The increased strength allows it to undergo delicate machining, and thus it is commonly used in aerospace for the production of critical components.
Why Aluminum F357?
That last reason is why I think VELO3D pursued this particular material. The company has the habit of taking simple steps that open up large markets, and this could definitely be one of them. As I’ve said before, many manufacturers will not consider buying equipment unless it can 3D print the specific material they require. Thus, by adding this material it’s possible VELO3D has just gained a ton of good prospects for not only the material but Sapphire 3D printers.
From this I expect to see two things happen: VELO3D will sell more Sapphire 3D printers, and secondly VELO3D will no doubt announce even more interesting materials for yet more new markets.