MELD Manufacturing Reaches Major Milestone with Metal 3D Printed Components

Share this Article

Virginia-based company MELD Manufacturing Corporation was launched in the spring of 2018 as a subsidiary of Aeroprobe Corporation, which produces instruments that provide and measure real-time air and flow data. Aeroprobe had been working with the Edison Welding Institute to develop Friction Stir Additive Manufacturing for printing functionally gradient metal components, and founded MELD to continue working on this novel technology.

That’s exactly what the company did. Even though its technology had already been in development for more than a decade, MELD continued making strides to its patented process of creating, and repairing, metal components out of off-the-shelf materials. Not long after its launch, MELD was in the news for winning the RAPID Innovation Award at RAPID + TCT 2018.

“The MELD technology is a revolution. To be recognized at RAPID by these industry leaders demonstrates just how much potential MELD has to change the way we think about manufacturing,” MELD Manufacturing Corporation’s CEO Nanci Hardwick said at the time. ” We want to see MELD adopted across industries, so it’s exciting to see genuine interest from such a diverse crowd.”

MELD Manufacturing Corporation CEO Nanci Hardwick and Production Manager David Smith with measuring tape extended to 1.85 meters (6 feet).

A few months later, the company was selected as a finalist for the global R&D 100 Awards, and is now celebrating a major milestone regarding the size of its metal 3D printed parts. Using off-the-shelf Aluminum 6061, MELD has 3D printed components that are larger than 1.4 meters (55 inches) in diameter; some of these components even have solid walls that are over 102 mm (4 inches) thick!

So, what makes this technology so unique? It can actually print fully dense parts without having to melt any metal. The innovative, solid-state process can be used to 3D print, coat, repair, and join metals and metal matrix composites. By avoiding melting, MELD also avoids issues like hot-cracking and porosity, and uses less energy to produce high-quality parts with full density and low residual stresses.

Large scale components made from off-the-shelf Aluminum 6061 material using the MELD process.

“MELD is uniquely open atmosphere, meaning no special chambers or vacuums are needed. This flexibility not only means less equipment and cost, but also that MELD is scalable and can make parts bigger, better, and faster than other processes,” the MELD website states.

“The combination of material freedom and scalability make MELD a revolution for a wide range of industries, including aerospace, defense, turbomachinery, and many others.”

Due to a decrease in domestic forges and mills, there’s an increased demand for large-scale metal parts, like the ones MELD is now creating, than foreign companies can readily supply. The current COVID-19 pandemic has not made these delays any better, either.

“Prior to the pandemic our customer told us that these parts, printed in a few days at MELD, would have taken them up to two years to get from their supply chain,” Dr. Chase Cox, MELD’s Director of Technology, said in a press release. “This global economic shutdown likely added 6 months or more to that 2-year lead time estimate. MELD represents an opportunity to re-establish domestic manufacturing capability at a critical time.”

MELD Manufacturing Corporation CEO Nanci Hardwick with a large-scale aluminum component built with the MELD process.

MELD’s material is widely used in industry applications, though it’s not compatible with other forms of metal additive manufacturing, and the large size of its 3D printed components is a good example of the advantages in scalability that this type of open-air 3D printer can provide. Large metal structures that are commonly fabricated with forging can now be 3D printed, on-demand, with MELD’s technology.

What do you think about this? Discuss this story, and other 3D printing topics, at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below. 

(Images provided by MELD Corporation)

Share this Article


Recent News

WASP’s Dual House 3D Printers Build Innovative Eco-Habitat in Italy

Are We Finally at the Long-Awaited 3D Printing Inflection Point?



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

Featured

New Data Report: 3D Printing Revenues Reached $2.12B in Q3 2020, Says SmarTech Analysis

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the global economy took a steep nose dive in 2020. This included the 3D printing market during the first half of the year, but our...

Featured

Dream M&As: 3D Printing Mergers and Acquisitions We’d Like to See in 2021

Inspired in part by the acquisition of EnvisionTEC by Desktop Metal and of Origin by Stratasys, we’ve been brainstorming about the newly hot 3D printing stocks and renewed interest from...

3D Printing Webinar and Virtual Event Roundup: January 17, 2021

We’ve got all kinds of virtual events and webinars to share with you this week, with topics ranging from 3D design and medical applications to simulation and more. Read on...

Featured

Desktop Metal (DM) Buys EnvisionTEC to Quickly Boost Revenues?

Wow. Publicly traded Desktop Metal (NYSE:DM) has just purchased EnvisionTEC for $300 million in stock and cash. For my part, I would have paid all my money to be a...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.