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Velo3D Sapphire 3D Printer In-Depth Review

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8.6Expert Score
Velo3D Sapphire

Sapphire is capable of producing high-quality surface finishes in metal parts with zero porosity. It is designed while keeping in mind the ground-level production.

Affordability
3
Quality
10
Speed
10
Capability
10
Practicality
10
User Expectations
10
PROS
  • Eccentric design innovation.
  • A full-stack solution involving powder handling and inert powder unpacking.
  • One-click calibration.
  • In-situ metrology sensors for minute control.
  • Higher throughput with dual laser sources.
  • Lesser risk of part collisions.
  • Available in two different configurations.
CONS
  • Sapphire is a very complicated system and it takes time to understand it and gain complete control.
  • Printing with Sapphire is a costly affair. It demands huge one time investment and regular high cost maintenance.

  • Product
  • Specification
  • Videos
A highly reliable solution for large format metal printing, The Velo3D Sapphire is designed by Velo3D, a 3D printer manufacturer from the USA Velo3D. ...
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Model

Sapphire

Manufacturer

Velo3D

Price Range

> $ 250000

Release date

2018

Country

United States

Availability

Available

Classification

Industrial

Technology

Powder (SLS- SLM…)

Material

Metal

Max. build size

315 × 315 × 400 mm 12.4 × 12.4 × 15.75 in

Max. build volume

39.69 L

Min. layer thickness

0.25 mm 0.01 in

Heated print bed

No

Heated build chamber

No

Automatic calibration

No

Closed frame

Yes

Dual extruder

No

Independent Dual Extruder

No

Full color

No

LCD screen

No

Touchscreen

Yes

On-board camera

No

Mobile app

No

3D scanners

No

CNC mill

No

Electronics 3D printing

No

Laser engraving

No

Conveyor belt

No

Air filter

No

Pellet extruder

No

USB

Yes

Wifi

No

Bluetooth

No

SD card

No

Ethernet

No

Manufactured focusing on offering users a larger build-chamber, Velo3D Sapphire is a metal additive manufacturing system used for building huge designs. It features a one-meter-long vertical axis that makes it the tallest metal laser powder machine with a closed chamber.

The printer is designed to work with specialty metals used in aerospace, oil and gas, and other industries demanding higher precision.

Sapphire prints using Velo3D’s patented Support Free process, in-situ monitoring, and process control for providing great quality assurance. The metal additive manufacturing system is compatible with nickel-based alloys in the form of powder.

Velo3D Sapphire

In addition, Sapphire is equipped with dual lasers of 1kilowatt power for intelligently fusing complex geometries and overhangs. It is designed keeping in mind the ground-level production and manages to demonstrate great capabilities while producing thin walls as well as top-notch surfaces with zero porosity.

So, let’s explore in detail the Sapphire 3D printer to understand how this next-generation unique metal 3D printing system is benefitting users.

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Features

The Velo3D Sapphire is based on laser powder bed fusion 3D printing technology. It offers quality control features and integrates with intuitive applications to offer users the best print quality results.

Higher Throughput and Better Yield

Sapphire 3D printing system is equipped with dual KW lasers. Therefore, it can produce parts and functional prototypes double the speed of single KW lasers.

So, if you have a printing project of manufacturing 100 objects of fixed geometry, manufacturing them using a single KW laser will take a lot of time. On the contrary, Sapphire 3D printers can complete the job in half the time.

Moreover, the metal additive manufacturing system features a proprietary non-contact recoater for reducing the risk of part collisions. Thereby, delivering a secured 3D printing process with high-resolution prints and dimensional accuracy!

Calibration at the Push of a Button

Sapphire requires no external components as it’s the case with most of the other metal 3D printers for enabling run time. It hosts a one-click optics calibration.

Understanding that precise leveling plays an important role in achieving accurate prints, the manufacturer ensures accurate one-click calibration for getting perfect results at all times.

Integrated Quality Control

In-situ metrology sensors offer users visibility into the print quality of every layer of the build. Therefore, it is easier to create precise and stronger parts with accurate measurements, even for larger designs.

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Full-stack Solution

Sapphire allows for continuous power handling and inert powder unpacking. Because the printing system is integrated with Velo Flow 3D preprint software and Assure quality assurance and control system, it offers a full-stack solution to users.

Hence, enabling users to control the minutest component of the complete metal laser powder bed fusion 3D printing. Starting right from material loading to post-processing!

Unlimited Design Innovation

Unlike conventional metal 3D printing systems that often demand support structures for any design geometry below 45 degrees, Sapphire eccentrically enables engineers to design with overhangs down to zero degree horizontal and large inner diameters without supports.

For instance, the printer can create gas power turbines without needing to create a support structure for the same. Not only the design freedom, but the printing system is capable of creating lightweight parts offering better performance.

Flexible Configurations for Real-World Applications

Owing to the different requirements of various parts and their application, Velo3D has made Sapphire a lot more flexible than other typical metal 3D printing systems.

It has a cylindrical 315 mm diameter build chamber that is available not only in 400 mm but also in 1000 mm configurations. So, users can flexibly use one for manufacturing large build volumes and the other one for small build volumes.

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One Meter Build Volume

According to the company’s claim, Sapphire is the only metal 3D printer that allows users to make parts and functional prototypes with one-meter height. That applies even if you simply re-orient a part sideways for 3D printing it on an alternative device with a wider build volume.

This is because, when printing horizontally, the other printers would require a greater number of support structures to complete the process. Hence, making the overall printing inefficient.

So, there is only one metal 3D printing system in the world that lets users design and manufacture continuous metal 3D parts of one-meter height. And printing vertically is more beneficial in many cases, while the designs require less support for completion.

Environment Control

Sapphire metal 3D printing system keeps it down to sub-10 ppm Oxygen during normal operation. It allows for active humidity monitoring. The printer maintains ambient temperature and pressure by highly regulating chamber gas flow and removing spatters with efficiency.

Specifications

Velo3D Sapphire specsCredit: 3dprintingmedia.network

Equipped with dual 1KW lasers, Velo3D Sapphire is a high throughput and yield delivering metal additive manufacturing printing system.

It enables users to print with rare metal alloy powders such as IN718, Ti6Al4V, and Al357. The printer can produce typical throughput of up to 60 cubic centimeters per hour and a surface finish ranging anywhere from 5 to 15 micrometers Sa.

The maximum build size and volume offered by Sapphire are 315 mm * 315 mm * 1000 mm and 77.93 liters. It offers a minimum layer thickness of 0.25 mm for 3D printed metal parts and functional prototypes. Users can connect using a USB cord.

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Price

Interested buyers must request a quote from the printer’s manufacturer. However, one must expect it to be very expensive, far from being budget-friendly for enthusiasts or even small manufacturers.

First Impression

Velo3D Sapphire 3D Printer

Being an industrial metal 3D printer, Sapphire has the most robust build design you’d have ever come across.

The machine has a modular frame that occupies a huge workspace and is ideal for manufacturing metal 3D parts and functional prototypes. Its build size is 2.1 meters * 2.1 meters * 2.5 meters and weighs 5700 kilograms.

There are two options available for the Sapphire metal 3D printing system:

  1. Standard 400 mm Z-axis height.
  2. 1MZ 1000 mm Z-axis height.

It is easy to notice the door for accessing its print chamber present somewhere near the left top side, just beside the touch screen interface. In short, it’s an attractive machine offering great functionality to the users.

Setup

When delivered to your workplace, Sapphire is completely assembled and comes with on-site assistance to help users with the setup of the printing system.

Once users are familiar with the complexity of the 3D printing workflow, it is not difficult at all to handle even the most complex geometries on this machine. The setup won’t take more than an hour.

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Print Type/Cost

Velo3D Sapphire print typr costCredit: velo3d.com

Sapphire is based on Direct Metal Laser Sintering 3D printing technology. During the process, metal alloy powder is loaded on a hopper. After which, the printer heaters bring the metal powder to a temperature near the sintering range. An inert gas is used by the printing system for protecting the heated powder and part as it is built.

The 3D printing process begins with dispensing a thin layer of metal powder onto the build platform. Then, the laser begins to selectively sinter the powder layer by layer, until the part is printed completely.

After this, the part is left to cool down and the surrounding loose metal powder is removed from the printer. Supports are removed and post-processing is started.

The cost of 3D printing parts via DMLS 3D printing technology is generally higher than other 3D printing technologies because users need to deal with metal powder. Also, sintering occurs at a very minute level and creates metal parts of high precision.

Moreover, a part is solidified using laser sources of high power which consumes considerate electric power. All of this impacts the cost per part when printing with Sapphire.

Print Quality

Velo3D Sapphire print qualityCredit: tctmagazine.com

Sapphire is equipped with in-situ metrology sensors that enable visibility into the quality of every layer of the build. This allows for integrated quality control of metal parts and functional prototypes. Therefore, leading to highly accurate metal parts with sharp edges.

Objects such as Sierra turbines that cannot be produced by conventional metal 3D printing are easily designed using Sapphire metal additive manufacturing printing system.

Dual lasers of 1KW power ensure high-quality sintering, delivering surface finishes ranging between 5 to 15 micrometers Sa.

Moreover, the eccentric ability of Sapphire to print overhangs down to zero degrees enables users to achieve complex geometries, not possible otherwise. The printer manifests the production of thin walls and high-quality surfaces with zero porosity.

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Software

Sapphire integrates with Velo Flow 3D pre-print software and Assure quality assurance and control system to offer users the simplest workflow for creating bigger metal parts.

Customer Support

Velo3D’s technical team is available via phone or email to solve user’s doubts. The team is responsive and are highly skilled. Also, there is a lot of information available online regarding how to deal with this giant metal additive manufacturing system.

Parameters Influencing Buying Decision

Below mentioned are the chief factors concerning Velo3D Sapphire.

3D Printer Cost: Being an industrial 3D printer, Sapphire, like most other giant-volume-producing metal 3D printers is costly and demands a decent one-time investment.

3D Print Speed: Based on DMLS 3D printing technology, the printing system has a throughput of up to 60 cubic centimeters per hour. Hence, it is quite fast and impressive.

3D Print Quality: The printer can produce metal parts and functional prototypes with a surface finish ranging between 5 to 15 micrometers.

3D Printer Capability: Sapphire is compatible with IN718, Ti6AI4V, and AI357. Users can flexibly choose from two build chamber configurations i.e. 400 mm and 1000 mm. It enables designers to manufacture their ideas with overhangs down to zero degrees. All of these features make this printer really capable of converting complex designs into reality.

3D Printer Practicality: Continuous power handling and inert powder packing is possible with Sapphire as it is integrated with Flow pre-print software and Assure quality assurance and control system. Although a little complicated for first-time use, once set, the printing system is a joy to work with. The printer is best for industrial applications, from aerospace to medicine and more.

3D Printer User Expectations: By allowing great design freedom and high-quality results with bigger parts, the printer does fulfill users’ expectations.

The Verdict

Sapphire is capable of producing high-quality surface finishes in metal parts with zero porosity. It is designed while keeping in mind the ground-level production.

The printer’s laser and optics fidelity, powder bed uniformity, environmental control, and most importantly, the capability of producing metal parts with 1-meter height separate it from other metal 3D printers available in the same price range.

Not only does the printer offer the freedom to print huge heightened metal parts, but also the sheer convenience of printing complicated geometries without support. And this is what makes Sapphire the next-gen metal additive manufacturing system designed to unlock digital manufacturing for mission-critical applications.

Large-scale metal part manufacturers can utilize Sapphire for achieving thinner wall and high-quality surface finishes with zero porosity. Not to forget, the two high-power laser sources enabling faster solidification of metal alloys are another key component that provides Sapphire with such huge popularity.


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