On Thursday, April 12, 2018, Aeroprobe Corporation announced MELD, its proprietary manufacturing technology, is moving into a new phase of commercialization that includes the spinout of MELD Manufacturing Corporation. These announcements come after more than a decade of research and development for the MELD process.
“Our technology is truly unique,” noted MELD CEO Nanci Hardwick. “We identified an area in the additive manufacturing industry that could be improved upon and put a lot of time and effort into making it happen. The MELD process is a game changer in the additive manufacturing field and beyond.”
The company holds more than a dozen patents for MELD, a process that can be used for a wide range of materials, including metal powders and rods. It can also be used with metal chips that would normally be discarded in other processes, making it a viable option for a green alternative.
“What sets us apart from other technologies is that we aren’t melting,” explained Additive Manufacturing Manager Chase Cox, “When you melt, you introduce weakness and other issues. By taking the material up to a point where it is malleable but not melted, we end up with properties that meet or exceed similar processes and, in some cases, even those of the original material.”
While a few other processes offer the ability to work with materials without melting, MELD is further differentiated by being open atmosphere, meaning no special chambers or vacuums are needed to operate a MELD machine.
“Being open atmosphere means less equipment and fewer headaches,” continued Cox, “From a manufacturing standpoint, it also means that MELD isn’t limited in the size of the parts it can make.
Compared to similar processes, we can make parts that are not only bigger, but also superior in quality and material options.”
Beyond additive manufacturing, the MELD process can be used to repair, coat, and join materials. The novelty of the technology also means that welding previously unweldable materials is a possibility.
“I was very excited the first time I saw the MELD technology,” notes Paul Allison, Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama, which already owns a MELD machine. “It was and still is obvious that MELD provides a breakthrough in manufacturing technology that overcomes the technical barriers of fusion-based processes. That innovation is why I was eager to purchase a MELD machine and to work with the MELD team to pioneer research for this technology,” stated Allison.
The MELD process promises to innovate a number of industries, from automotive and aerospace to defense and turbomachinery. MELD Manufacturing will offer machine sales in addition to contract manufacturing and consulting services.
“This is just another example of the technical innovations that are occurring in the New River Valley,”said Chris Tuck, Chair, Montgomery County Board of Supervisors. “The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors continues to support our local businesses in growing and making world-wide impacts,” said
“I’m both proud of and excited about this home-grown technology in Montgomery County,” said Vice Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors, April DeMotts. “It is clearly evident that the impact of this cutting-edge technology will reach far beyond Virginia,” said DeMotts.