On Sunday The Guardian Newspaper was reporting that aerospace manufacturers in the UK were lobbying the Government to bring forward defence spending in order to bridge the gap formed by a significant drop in orders.
Furthermore, the Airbus CEO, said in an April communication to staff that the company was “bleeding cash,” and that, “The aviation industry will emerge into this new world very much weaker and more vulnerable than we went into it.”
The downturn in aerospace manufacturing is something of a worry for the additive manufacturing (AM) industry, which sees the sector as its number one priority particularly those involved in metal AM.
It comes as something of a nice surprise to see VELO3D today announce that it has received a $20M order for its metal AM printers from an existing aerospace customer. This order is the largest to date for VELO3D since their commercial launch in September 2018.
“This significant order validates that VELO3D’s SupportFree process is production-ready,” said Benny Buller, founder and CEO of VELO3D. “Our recent successes across various industrial sectors show that many OEMs and contract manufacturers are adapting their supply chain to meet the demands of manufacturing mission-critical components. Design freedom, agile production, and quality assurance are requirements that VELO3D is uniquely positioned to meet.”
VELO3D, recently featured on the cover of the North American edition of TCT and touts its patented SupportFree process as something of a game changer for metal AM. The process, according to VELO3D reduces the consideration of support structures for complex passageways, shallow overhangs and low angles.
Although VELO3D has not officially named the customer involved in the commitment one of its more prominent clients in the aerospace sector is Boom Supersonic. In June 2019, Mike Jagemann, Head of Production for the XB-1 demonstrator aircraft commented on Boom Supersonic's use of the technology:
“High-speed air travel relies on technology that is proven to be safe, reliable, and efficient, and by partnering with VELO3D we’re aligning ourselves with a leader in additive manufacturing that will print the flight hardware for XB-1. VELO3D helped us understand the capabilities and limitations of metal additive manufacturing and the positive impact it would potentially have on our supersonic aircraft. We look forward to sharing details about the aircraft development and improved system performance once XB-1 takes flight.”
The contract news comes after more good news last week from VELO3D regarding the completion of a $40M fundraising round, increasing total fundraising to $150M to date.
Although the aerospace industry is set for a period of struggle, perhaps the leaner manufacturing chain utilising the promised benefits of AM (part consolidation, lead time reduction, lightweighting, etc.) may actually accelerate investments in the technology.