MELD Manufacturing Corporation has fabricated components in excess of 55 inches (1.4 meters) in diameter using off the shelf Aluminum 6061. Components have solid walls, some over 4 inches (102 millimeters) thick. The size of the components is a milestone for the company and represents the advantages the open-air printer offers in scalability. The material is notable because despite its widespread utilization in industry, it is not compatible with other metal additive technologies. With the MELD® technology, metal additive manufacturing of large structures typically produced using a forging can now be printed on demand.
A reduction in domestic mills and forges has created more demand than foreign capacity can supply. COVID-19 has exacerbated delays globally. “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. This global economic shutdown likely added 6 months or more to that 2-year lead time estimate,” stated Director of Technology Dr. Chase Cox. “MELD represents an opportunity to re-establish domestic manufacturing capability at a critical time.”