Meltio and Accufacture Unveil Robotic Metal 3D Printer Made in the US

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Meltio has partnered with Michigan-based robotics firm Accufacture to introduce Alchemist 1, a robotic cell designed for wire-laser metal 3D printing made in the US. This new system represents a step forward in the field of additive manufacturing and is particularly suited to producing and repairing metal parts across industries like automotive, aerospace, mining, and oil and gas.

Alchemist 1 stands out with its capability to deposit metal at a rate of up to 1 kilogram per hour, thanks to the integration of a robotic arm equipped with Meltio’s specialized Wire-Laser Metal Deposition (W-LMD) technology, a Directed Energy Deposition (DED) process that functions by precisely stacking weld beads on top of one another in wire form when introduced into the laser generated melt pool. This advanced technique uses metal wire as feedstock and a precise laser beam to melt and deposit the wire directly where needed, leveraging Meltio’s head. Its use of affordable welding wire as feedstock not only helps in reducing material costs but also maintains part quality and density.

According to the companies, the combination of the robotic arm and W-LMD technology allows for rapid, precise metal placement, making it ideal for producing complex parts that are also quite large. To support the production of such large-scale components, the Alchemist 1 is designed with a spacious build volume of 3.2 feet by 6.5 feet by 3.2 feet, totaling 66.56 cubic feet. The size of the build area is comparable to that of a large refrigerator, enabling the machine to accommodate significant components, which is crucial for industries such as automotive and aerospace.

Inside Alchemist 1 cell by Meltio and Accufacture. Image courtesy of Meltio.

The system is designed for quick integration into existing production lines. It comes fully assembled with a six-axis FANUC robot, a leading Japanese-headquartered robotics firm, and a two-axis positioner enclosed in a safe, laser-proof cabinet. This configuration enables rapid setup times and immediate start of production, cutting down the usual waiting time for such advanced installations. Furthermore, the system comes complete with a complimentary Meltio Space robotic slicer license, though customers have the flexibility to use other slicer technologies as well.

On the materials front, Meltio offers a wide range of possibilities, including stainless steel, carbon steel, nickel alloys, titanium alloys, copper alloys, and more. These range from third-party material choices to Meltio’s own materials, ranging from alloys to superalloys. While specific details about the availability of these materials with the Alchemist 1 system have not been disclosed, the versatility of Meltio’s material options suggests that users may have a broad selection to choose from, enhancing the system’s adaptability and utility across various sectors.

“Our Alchemist 1 Cell marks the culmination of our extensive relationship with Meltio and FANUC, aimed at expanding the horizons of large format metal 3D printing,” says Xavier Fajardo, CEO of Accufacture. “By offering a standardized, preconfigured solution, we aim to streamline the adoption process for our customers, thereby accelerating innovation across diverse industries.”

A peek inside the Alchemist 1 cell by Meltio and Accufacture. Image courtesy of Meltio.

In fact, Alchemist 1 was designed to meet the heavy demands of industries engaged in large-scale metal fabrication. For example, automotive and aerospace manufacturers can make durable parts that demand reliability, while other sectors like mining and oil and gas could benefit from the machine’s ability to produce bespoke, heavy-duty components on demand, enhancing operational efficiency and reducing dependence on supply chains.

Overall, FANUC America’s Executive Sales Director Michael Sharpe points out that the DED print quality coupled with the FANUC Robot motion allows for Accufacture to combine the best of both companies’ technologies into a complete Class 1 laser package. The Alchemist 1 solution simplifies W-LMD 3D printing so customers can concentrate on production.

As companies continue to seek more innovative manufacturing solutions, the introduction of Alchemist 1 by Meltio, Accufacture, and FANUC could help with production capabilities, offering high-quality, cost-effective solutions that streamline manufacturing processes across several critical sectors.

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