Welcome to 3D From Nothing Powered by Metalmite, the Show where you will learn all about 3-D printing and additive technology, and I am your host, Tom Gendich.
Metalmite is a full-service machine shop that specializes in 5 and 6 axis CNC machining, CNC grinding, Wire EDM and 3D Printing. We are a 50 plus year old corporation started by my father, Michael Gendich the Third. I took over as CEO in 2009 and am continuing the manufacturing legacy as a third-generation owner.
In these programs you will learn what kinds of printers are out there and what kind of materials you can print on. Who is using these printers, what kinds of things should you be looking at printing. As well as hearing form experts in the field through interviews we will be conducting. And, as always you can go to our website 3-Dfrom nothing.com can get free giveaways and learn more about what we’re doing and how the name comes from my father he said at some point will make parts out of nothing – and today we are doing just that with 3D Printing and additive technology.
we have a wonderful show planned. I have a special guest here. Paul Holowaty, which some of you might have seen familiar as we interviewed him a year or so ago. Paul is now with Velo 3d. Welcome to the show, Paul.
Absolutely. I, as a quick recap, for those who don’t know you’ve spent a, what the better part of the last 20 years in in additive technology.
Yup. I I started selling 3d printers back in 2005. Moved around a little bit and spent the last 10, 12 years in the, on the metal. And various forms of metal am from cold spray to laser powder, bed fusion, to electron beam belt.
Gotcha. So you, if you’ve got a pretty good handle on the industry as a whole seeing all the different technologies and obviously the different manufacturers, if memory serves me, correct.
I think you were the number one salesman for Stratasys for awhile. Then you hold that.
Yes. In 2009. So that was pretty exciting. It was a fun time to be in selling 3d printers
and I newer to the market. Lots of people getting into it at that point. And yeah. Yeah.
I could open up my sample case and in some cases I would get a PO right on the spot.
So it was.
Nice blowing minds. And I think you continue to be in the middle of where the action is. I, one of the last shows I covered Velo 3d and where they’ve been in the market in the last three years. And I think since my last show, they’ve now gone public.
I think your founder CEO was seen ringing the bell there on wall street. As they went public, it was just the end of last year. Wasn’t it?
Yeah, it was September 30th that we went public.
Fantastic. Really a really short time period from the inception. What was the was founded in 2018?
I think it sad or
no. No we Benny founded the company in 2014. We sold our first machine in 2018. So it’s a relatively new company to metal. And I think some of the benefits are that we’ve learned about. Of mistakes that previous companies had made. One of them being were powder agnostic.
Another one being we don’t build parts. We’re not in competition with our own customer base. So that’s why we have a strong and thriving contract manufacturing network. We’ve actually got a team of engineers that are looking for those compelling, complex, high value, metal parts. That would be suitable for our equipment that we steer towards our contract manufacturers.
I was going to say it was one of the things I was able to listen to Benny on a on a podcast recently. And he really stressed. I guess in his career, he spent a little bit of time as a venture capitalist looking to fund some 3d printing companies and he became I think his words was I can’t remember how he phrased it, but he was again the fact that there was so many variables on the market.
You take an E an EOS machine or a 3d systems machine, and you sell a thousand of them to a thousand different customers. He said you could literally get a thousand variations of the same part by sending it to those customers. So he was he was quoted infamously, I guess at this point is saying he would never invest any money into 3d printing.
And I, it sounds like he has to defend that now, but he said he’s,
he still believes what he said, because he
didn’t like the way the market was going in that an end customer like Boeing or SpaceX or, Rocketdyne or whatever. Okay, good. Could not trust that the part coming from that machine was going to be the same.
And tell us a little bit about, it sounds like Velo started a little bit on the opposite end of where maybe EOS and some of his other guys started where
you guys started with the software
and you wanted to make sure you had integrity across all platforms. And if the only ordered one part and then turned around and ordered a thousand more, you guys can promise that part’s going to be the same when it arrived.
Paul Hollowaty, at one point held to title of number 1 additive salesman in the World! Now with Velo3D has a lot to say in this episode about the start of Velo3D and the the current business plan.
Paul talks about Benny Buller’s original vision and how the contract manufacturing now works.
The solution Velo3D has delivered to Lockheed Martin includes a Sapphire printer, Velo3D’s Flow print preparation software, its Assure quality assurance and control software, and its underlying Intelligent Fusion manufacturing process, which optimizes the additive manufacturing process by combining process simulation, geometry-based detection, and build process monitoring during print execution. This end-to-end solution gives customers the confidence that the mission-critical parts printed using Velo3D’s additive manufacturing technology preserve design intent. It also provides customers with the ability to produce identical parts across any Velo3D Sapphire printer, so as production needs increase, customers can merely add additional printers to their production facilities anywhere in the world or utilize Velo3D’s network of contract manufacturers.
A recent article at 3Dnatives.com says “Velo3D points to advanced metal AM solutions, especially its own Sapphire® systems, as the solution to overcome these barriers. Industrial metal AM machines allow for more aerospace companies to turn confidently towards additive manufacturing. But how exactly will this be accomplished?
Looking at each barrier individually, advanced metal systems have built-in solutions to overcome them, making metal 3D printing more reliable and easier for users. For example, a non-contact recoater arm in advanced AM systems eliminated issues with protruding surfaces, ensuring that there will be no recoater clashes. This in turn significantly reduces the likelihood of failed builds as well as provides for a smoother surface, allowing for less time in post-processing.
When it comes to the question of software, advanced industrial metal systems work to integrate extreme process controls, resulting in better parts, printed faster, with metallurgical structural integrity. A robust workflow also ensures that not only is printing easy, as CAD files can be worked with directly and optimized within the machine, but processes are monitored, also reducing failures. Finally, the company points to superior gas ventilation present in these industrial solutions, allowing for the evacuation of accompanying soot and thus more rapid laser fusion… Velo3D concludes, “Advanced industrial metal AM technology has at last reached the point where it reliably delivers on the promise of unprecedented design freedom, shorter lead times, reduced development and production costs, and the highest-quality, fully-functional end-use parts for aerospace and defense.”
Sure. Yeah. Benny started the company in 2014 and the reason he started it, he was w he was a physicist working for a venture capital company. So he was doing the due diligence on some of the companies that we’re investing in. And he was working with a rocket company who came to him and said, Hey, we’ve got these great designs, but we can’t build them on our current systems.
So he got some fun. And he started his own company and he, with the original intent of becoming a contract manufacturer to produce these impossible parts. So he purchased the conventional metal am system, use the conventional third-party slicer and quickly realized that it wasn’t going to be possible with the equipment that existed today.
So as a result he built the first Sapphire. And in order to make these parts, he had to build the software to the slicer. Now what’s unique about our slicer is that we’re taking in native CAD files and our software recognizes the geometry of the different features of the geometry and applies recipes to that part.
The printer we’ve got over 900 sensors on the printer. And it it executes those instructions. And then on the backend, we have assure, which is quality validation software that monitors the tool health and the actual printing of the part. So it’s a true end-to-end solution. And.
Compelling re the compelling. We’re always looking for those compelling parts, those complex high value metal parts where they can’t be defanged or there can’t be any quality compromise. That’s where that’s the, where we play.
And I got a question about that. Are you guys the only one taking that much?
Control in the slicer and the print side and the quality side or other people starting to come along now realizing that’s a necessity.
Yeah. To my knowledge, we’re the only ones and I know all the other competitors, but one of our, several of our customers said that we’re five generations.
And it’s really exciting. And I would invite you to come out and visit our R and D center and our manufacturing plant out in Campbell, California, out in Silicon valley. I it’s always great to bring customers in because in our R and D center, we’ve got our original six sapphires there and there, their R and D machines we’re working on new materials, new processes.
So they’ve got the panels pulled off and then we’ve got the. SEF RXC as well as the beta Safar exi in our R and D lab. And so you really get to take a look under the hood of our equipment and see really what we’re doing. Yeah, I’m exciting.
Now, one of the things again, I I overheard Benny talking about on his interview which was, I think it was just a week or two ago, so it’s pretty recent.
It was made pretty public that a certain eccentric billion or trillionaire who owns a rocket company approached him and tried to buy Velo for himself. And and then he said in the interview it was difficult to resist cause it was a lot of money, but he told that centric billionaire that he would continue to offer a great product and serve his company, but that he needed to maintain the independence of the company in order to, he was really trying to change the industry.
And he really wanted to make sure that that the industry as a whole benefited from what he was trying to do with the software. And the the sensors, you talked about the 900 sensors and calibrating in between each layer and several things that, that were important to Benny that he didn’t see other manufacturers doing.
And so I found that really intriguing that from a from his own pocket book standpoint, he could have maybe done better by just selling the company before going public. But from the sense that he was really. A person on a mission to change an industry. It really says a lot about Velo from the top down on how they want to make it happen.
So do you have any thoughts on that? Yeah,
it’s a while that particular customer is currently one of our largest, we’ve got other customers that are approaching that, but and
They’re a great
Velo. I’ve been with Velo for nine months and it’s an absolutely remarkable company from the design and development.
And again we’re designing a building where they only laser powder bed fusion company in the world, manufacturing our machines in the. And a third of our employees came from the semiconductor industry, which really gives you an idea of, how w th the level of detail we’re taking in designing and building this equipment.
But it, what struck me when I first started with Velo is the customer support. We have weekly meetings with every single customer. And we discussed, what did half hour meetings we discuss what went, right? What went wrong? What is their backlog look like? Do they need any help with anything with any file preparation?
Any spare parts and We have a two and a half to one ratio of machines to field service technicians. So we are able to, if anything goes wrong on the equipment, we’re able to get to the customer within sometimes hours. But at the latest 24 hours
two and a half to one, you have two and a half machines to every one service technician.
Correct. Wow. That’s incredible
as well. So well supported the service is unlike anything I’ve ever seen and the innovation, it w we’ve been told that we’re five generations ahead. And that’s the goal is to maintain that, that gap.
And it’s interesting because from a technical side, and I’m not the one at the controls printing these parts, but as we covered with you last time you were here, we do have seven 3d printers in house.
And we also make some parts for the same market that you’re talking about. And in the printing of ink canal specifically we’ve been finding, we’re struggling a lot with warpage we’re printing on a plate and we’re making a fairly thick part for a rocket engine.
The warpage values that our manufacturer has told us haven’t been real accurate. So we’ve had some issues that we’ve been dealing with and the manufacturer has been pretty good with us getting involved with solving that problem. But one of the things you recently got a
chance to meet with my top two
additive guys Greg and bill.
And one of the things they said after meeting with you is that your machine both of them that you demoed. Calibrate after every single move. And the whole idea of warpage and movement and the coefficient, sounds like Velo has really figured out the science behind that to make sure that a movement is accounted for, and that you end up with a good part at the end.
Yeah we that’s one of the keys to what we’re doing is we actually, you can calibrate to a full calibration on the machine to push button calibration prior to every bill, if you want. What we found is that once a week is generally. Acceptable. And that’s what most of our customers do.
So the assured quality assurance software will tell you when the machine needs to be calibrated when the filter needs to be changed, the health of the machine it’s pretty amazing. And what we’re able to do is to build parts without compromise. So with metal am, as you’re familiar with when you create supports for a part they’re really anchors to, to hold the part down.
We’re basically micro welding every 50 microns. So if you have a thin overhang, what it wants to do is lift up. If it’s unsupported with conventional metal, I have with our advanced. Processes, we’re able to build zero degree overhangs without supports. Now we’re not completely support free, but we’re support free where it’s important.
For instance, a shrouded impeller, you wouldn’t be able to remove the internal supports. Now there’s ways that conventional metal am can get around. Bye Mo propping it up on a 45 degree angle, but then your build time is much longer. You’re spending a lot of time and money on supports and you lose your concentricity.
So you don’t, you’ll never be able to balance it when it’s spinning at 30,000 RPM. So that’s really, what’s key is we’re providing engineers with the design. The parts they want without compromise.
Yeah. And like I said, it sounds like from a scalability standpoint I understand that you you alluded in the beginning of the conversation about.
Developing a what’d you call it a contract network. Yeah. So it sounds like from a scalability standpoint, again, a customer asks you to develop a rocket part and impeller or whatever and you finally nail and figure it out. You would have the ability to get him a scalable production. A lot size of that were pretty quick because every one of you.
Contract suppliers would print it the exact same way with the exact same material. Is that what I understand?
Yeah. Our systems, our production systems. So we have a closed loop powder handling system before I answer your question. And to change out materials on a metal 3d printer.
Okay. To print parts for aerospace or space customers. It they won’t accept those parts because there’s risk of contamination. So when you buy Bello Sapphire inconel seven 18 machine that’s what it’s going to be used for. Generally when our customers need a new material, we’ll buy another one.
It is possible to change out materials, but it’s not recommended depending on what industries you’re working at. So what we have is a available print file, and we w it’s very simple for us because we’re using native CAD files. So we go from the CAD file into our flow software, which creates a Velo build file.
And we orientate the part we apply, whatever supports are required. And the software automatically applies any other recipes. And we even have the ability to veer from that if there’s any special requirements. So we’ve got a number of sub recipes, and these are recipes that we’ve developed over the years that are continually to grow because our engineers are always looking for that impossible part.
And when we find a part, we can’t we can’t. We’ll figure out a way to build it. So after, after you orientate the part, apply the recipes and supports you slice it, and then you’ve got your locked in Belo print file. Now that’s a non-editable file and that’s what large OEMs can send out to the contract manufacturing network for quoting.
And as long as. The machine is using the same material and it’s in calibration within that week calibration one week calibration, they’re getting the same exact parts, whether it’s today, next year or 20 years from now. Now that’s that’s what really developed our contract manufacturing now. Is the, with conventional metal am big companies, space companies like space X.
We’re not able to outsource metal and parts. It wasn’t until Velo came along with our end-to-end solution that they were now. Now it’s a regular basis. And as many machines as they have, they still outsource a lot of.
So think in and industry to, to hit your point, some of those super large OEMs like a, it was a GE engine and they buy a complete manufacturer of some sort to, just to try to solve that problem.
They wanted to have the same machines and they wanted to own them in-house and all that. And I forget which one, which company they bought, but
they bought laser and
Yeah, but from what I read or what I understood, that was the problem that they were having. They had two or three of the early suppliers and they couldn’t get, they couldn’t get parts to repeat.
They couldn’t get the same part twice. And as you said, in aerospace, especially engine manufacturing, they they needed it. So they, their solution at the time it was let’s buy an entire company and then make sure every parts of the same. But I, I don’t know if they actually achieve that when put what they were trying,
One of the other issues with conventional metal am is that you’re starting with a CAD file going to STL.
Then you bring it into a third party slicer, and then you bring it into your machine to execute those commands. Now what happens with some, not all, but some metal 3d printers is that each time they calibrate the machine, they have to change that part. So on conventional metal and systems, they’re bringing in a field service tech to calibrate the machines on a quarterly basis with using external hardware to do that.
So you could have four different print files in a 12 month period. And what complicates that is? And a conventional metal am system by billable part today. That’s one thing qualifies and blah, blah, blah. But if I build it a year from now, I have to make sure that I use the most updated files.
So it becomes very complicated. And we’ve really simplified that whole situation. Not to me for a minute
about you talked about your engineering team. Talk to me about the different materials. I saw recently you guys have added copper that I believe NASA asked you to develop that specifically for one of their applications.
How many materials are you up to and how does that process work, where you add new materials?
It’s based on customer demand. We started with thinking oh, seven 18. Right now we’ve got nine materials that are production, ready, material processes. We’ve got at least six. Coming soon. And again they’re based on customer demand.
So we’ve get inconel 7 18, 6, 25 times six for aluminum at 3 57, HESTA lax Malloy aims to 82 and copper gr Jericho 42.
Now a lot of those that you just named Chester, the titanium and aluminum those are the. The historically they’ve had the trouble right. With the starting fires and the reactivity of those being laser centered.
How have you guys if that’s a simple answer, how have you been able to make it safer to send her.
Our machines we have two machines. It’s the same machine, but we have two versions. One is reactive and one is non-reactive and the reactive machines. Remember that, we still have a closed loop powder handling system.
So once you put the powder in, it does not see oxygen until
you remove the part vacuum. Then is it vacuum seal?
Yes. Yes. We have a genie. We have a unique Recoder. Maybe we should touch on that real quick. The Ricco standard recruiters will piston the piston, holding your build plate will come down and then recoater will push part of across the build plate and then back.
So with our systems, we’re actually using a non-contact recoater, which is very useful. It’s a protrusion tolerant. Recoder where the Recoder comes from back to front, lays down about three millimeters and material followed by a normalizing blade. And then we vacuum up the remaining powder to precisely 50 micros.
And then it goes back into the garage and then as we’re lasing, it’s creating smoke and soot, and we’ve got a nice, clear path for the argon to flow across. Okay. So
really tackled all the variables of that issue. Cause I know some of them build up.
That’s the problem. When you’re working with very low angle, thin parts, your parts will tend to move and recoater crashes is a big problem with conventional metal.
And so we’ve got a tolerance of 400 microns and then the operator will get a text in a warning. And then we can go up to really 700 microns, 800 microns before there’s danger of the park hitting the recorder and it automatically stopped at that point. So we, it’s, everything from the assure quality software.
We’re we take photos before and after each. Rico as well as structured light scans. And we’re measuring everything on the system now at the end of a typical build, we’re at about a terabyte of data, but we consolidate it down into a single build report that will give you the tool health quality, as well as the serial number and the.
Information and trusting that part, that build report can be sent to the customer, which a lot of our customers require it from the contract manufacturers is can also be filed away with the particular bill. Gotcha. Yeah.
In, in your list of materials as well, you mentioned aluminum. I know that’s been a massive request and industry is a good solution for additive on aluminum.
So w which aluminum, where did you get approved? But at Velo,
It’s called at 3 57. It’s a. Yeah, it’s a, it’s an excellent material. That’s very similar to a casting material. It’s a aluminum casting material. We decided not to go with the common LSI, 10 mg and thought there’s more value in after.
Okay. And same thing there. So someone that would typically order a casting you can print a few to prove a concept, and then you have the scale of your contract network to be able to give the OEM volume pretty quick. Correct. Correct. That’s amazing. I love that.
It’s it is pretty amazing. We we started in,
in really space,
And we’re in every single space company that exists. Do a lot of work in aviation energy, defense, and being in the Midwest. I don’t have space companies on every corner like they do in Los Angeles. So I’m constantly looking for new applications.
That use that same idea of optimizing fluid flow or exchanging heat. And what I’ve found is some applications in the high-pressure die-cast industry, which are, which is basically doing exactly what we do, what our goal is. And it’s pretty amazing because they’re looking at very large tools in a larger tool.
They get the larger cooling channel. Conventional my metal am can typically build cone channels up to six millimeters. And then the down skin surface will become very rough. And that’s where the cracks would propagate. So we’re w we’re able to build the first shot. We did add it. We had added we built from two millimeters up to 15 millimeters and we’re very successful with it.
And the customer commented that was better than he had done in seven years of working with a conventional system.
Really? Yeah. Wow.
That’s our way into the automotive industry. Not automotive is really, hasn’t been a good industry for metal laser powder bed fusion, because their volumes are so high.
So you really have to look at tooling applications.
That’s excellent. So it sounds like there’s a constant hunger within the company to a. To find new applications. And and as Benny said, in the other interview, he really wants to change an industry, not just not just offer another product on the market.
Fantastic. I do want to be sensitive to the time here. In a way we had a hard stop here, but as we wrap up, I know you have a you’re on tour this next month or two, right? Aren’t you there’s envelop going city to city offering offering some sort of View at your two machines?
Yeah we we have a road show that we just did one last month in Detroit. W we’re going to do about 13 this year. We did one in Pittsburgh a couple of weeks ago. We’ve got one in Boston, I think it’s next week. And then we go out and then we’ve got a couple in Europe. We’ve got one in Fremont.
Next month and the month, or actually Fremont is this month. And then we’ve got one in St. Louis in June. So it’s a great opportunity. It’s usually from nine til like two. And we’ll have it a nice facility we’ll provide lunch and we’ll have. Three or four speakers engineers give their presentations and really give people an idea of what we’re doing and what we’ve already done.
I think I know for myself before I started with fellow, I had a lot of questions. How do they do this? How does that non-contact recoater work? How are they printing zero degree overhangs and w we’re, all of our technologies are patented. So we’re fairly open with what we’re doing and we’ll show you what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.
One thing I do want to touch on before, before we quit is we’ve got our Sapphire, which is our first machine. It’s 315 millimeters in diameter by 400 millimeters tall with two, one kilowatt laser. We’re our inert environment is argon in our standard layer. Thickness is 50 micron. In-situ monitoring, we’ve got 970 sensors on the machine.
Now we’ve also got an identical machine where we extended the elevator and we can go up to one meter in the Z, but our newest machine, which we’re all very excited about. We shipped our first Sapphire ex. For extra capacity in December. And we actually just shipped a machine last week to my, probably shouldn’t say, but we just, we’ve had, we shipped several machines so far.
They had a reservation on those machines and we’ve got about a 40 machine backlog. Wow. What’s significant about those machines is they’re huge. With 600 millimeters in Diane. By 550 millimeters tall and we’re using eight one kilowatt lasers,
eight lasers. Wow.
Eight lasers. And so you can build large parts or you can build a lot of small parts and it’s really changing the cost structure of metal am.
Yeah. Yeah. It sounds like it. As Benny said, he wanted to set out to change an industry. It sounds like he’s doing it. So there’s gonna be a lot of people through. Catch up at this point. And then also, are you able to talk a little bit about the joining the contract network? What if some shops like myself or others want to be part of that network?
Is there still opportunity to do that?
Yeah it’s not like a private membership. You buy a machine and we will diligently work to fill that machine with you. W what’s interesting is as we. As we add new OEM space companies or defense defense institutions they’ll have a need and there’s only so much capacity they have and they’ll have a need to outsource parts.
And typically what we do is we’ll take a look at the part verify that, Hey us, it can be printed and then we’ll introduce them to one of our contract manufacturers.
So I think that’s a little different than most. As I said, I bought several machines at this point in my life and none of the OEMs have connected me with the customer.
So that’s a little different on the Velo, a relationship as well.
It really is in Benny, really believes in building up that strong contract manufacturing network. That’s what’s really going to grow the business because you have to have. A strong company to, to buy multiple machines and use them successfully.
And that’s what promotes the technology. And I would love for you guys to get a machine. I know you’re moving into a new building. But it, I think we’ve got a lot of common customers and I think he’d be successful right off the bat, especially with your previous experience.
We’re definitely chomping at the bit.
We’ve been big big Velo fans for a couple of years now. And I think, like I said Greg and bill from metal minority connected with you and got, I got a quick demo and other looking forward to seeing some more here in the next in the next week or two. Hopefully that can be added to our repertoire pretty soon.
We will have a booth at rapid, so if anybody’s interested, please stop by our booth. That booth number 1508.
That’s perfect. I was going to, I was going to end the show with saying, if anyone listening to this wants to get ahold of you personally, for more questions, what’s what’s the best way.
The best way I’ve got my contact information on LinkedIn. But my email address is Paul Holowaty at Belo 3d dot.
I’ll make sure that’s in the show notes and a and on YouTube. So some people can find it, but Paul, I really appreciate you taking time out today. We appreciate your professionalism and like I say, you’re your vast almost two decades now being an additive has been a fantastic I really value you as a resource in this industry and hopefully get a chance to work with you here.
With Velo, if we can be a Velo part of the contract network would be, we ask. That would be great.
And we’d like to have you I think you’d be a huge, you would be one of the first contract manufacturers in Michigan. So I think there, there would, I would say a lot,
As my shirt my, my son just graduated last Saturday from the university of Michigan.
It would be a, we’d be honored to represent Michigan as a, as one of the first Velo contract houses.
I hope that happens
Thanks for your time today.
Appreciate it. Thanks Tom.