Applications

Applications of MELD technology

No melting. No binders. No lasers. No sintering. No pressing. No limits.

MELD is the first process to give you the power to build 3D parts in the solid state. No melting means you can make products that rival or beat parts made with traditional subtractive machining, all in one step.

Application: Jointless Hull – US Army Project

 

U.S. Army Ground Systems Center, Ingersoll Machine Tool, the Applied Science and Technology Research Organization of America, Siemens and LIFT all worked together using MELD technology and Ingersoll Machine Tool’s Gantry crane system to create the world’s largest metal 3D printer. The Jointless Hull has a print volume of 20 feet, by 30 feet, by 12 feet, which allows for larger metal 3D prints down the road and could eventually build equipment the size of tank hulls with minimal use of traditional manufacturing processes. More information about the Jointless Hull Project can be found here and here.


Use MELD to repair.

The MELD process is well suited and very capable when it comes to repair operations. MELD repairs can be performed locally where needed to eliminate damage, wear, cracks, pitting, and any other situation where material needs to be added, replaced, or improved.

Cast, wrought, or forged; each of these material conditions can be repaired by the MELD process. Like with other MELD operations, material compatibility for repair operations includes aluminum alloys (even non-fusion weldable alloys!), magnesium, titanium, steel, and nickel-based super alloys, to name a few.

Application: Aluminum 2024 repair in simulated ballistics damage

Damaged Plate

MELDed Plate

Post MELD machining

In 2019, MELD was selected for Phase III of the Army’s Expeditionary Technology Search (xTechSearch). The use of MELD technology for repairs provides the Army with the strategic ability to make repairs and produce components for combat vehicles as close to the battlefield as possible while also improving overall efficiency and lowering costs. More information can also be found here.


Use MELD to add.

MELD can be used to add features, such as attachment points, rib stiffeners, flanges, and features that may not be easily added in a casting or extrusion operation. The ability to add features to a casting or extrusion offers an excellent means to improve the complexity of an extrusion or casting that would otherwise not be possible.

Because of the low-heat input and low resultant residual stresses in the printed geometries, significantly thinner plate material can be utilized in an engineered design with MELD added material in strategic locations necessitated by expected loading conditions. MELD offers a significant opportunity for engineers focused on light weight designs for automotive and aerospace applications in a wide array of materials including aluminum, titanium, and copper.

Application: Adding stringers and stiffeners to thin plate


Don’t Weld, MELD.

MELD offers a unique solution for joining a wide range of metals, including aluminum alloys (even non-fusion weldable alloys!), magnesium, titanium, steel, and nickel-based super alloys, among others. Thanks to the solid-state nature of the MELD process, both thick and thin materials can be joined with little to no distortion, such as plates, bar, tubular members, etc. Unlike fusion welding, which inherently presents multiple safety concerns like molten metal, bright light, fumes, and electricity, MELD for joining is safer and due to its significantly lower power requirements, is a green technology.

Copper on Molybdenum
Copper on Molybdenum

MELD is capable of creating traditional joint geometries like butt, lap, and spot, but is also able to create joints in ways that are unique to the MELD process (see image below).

MELD also presents the user with the option to join dissimilar materials, such as copper to multiple refractory metals (Tantalum, Niobium, and Molybdenum), titanium to nickel-based super alloys, nickel alloys to steel, and aluminum to steel.

Inconel 625 on HY80
Inconel 625 on HY80

Use MELD to Make Metal Matrix Composites (MMCs) & Custom Metals

The MELD process can be used to create custom blends of mechanically-alloyed materials and MMCs. By combining two or more materials within the MELD machine’s feed system, we can begin to print your custom part in an equally custom material.

With MELD, your designs are no longer limited to monolithic materials. MELD allows you to strategically add reinforcements such as silicon carbide to reduce wear in areas of need during the MELD deposition of your part. MELD also permits the user to not only vary the concentration of reinforcement during deposition, but also the type of reinforcement, such as changing from a silicon carbide to boron nitride or an aluminum oxide. MELD can also be used to fabricate custom mechanically-alloyed materials, such as a custom aluminum-molybdenum alloy developed in-house by MELD manufacturing.


Use MELD to coat.

There are a lot of options for applying metal coatings onto metal parts. Almost all of them involve melting metal so that it can be sprayed.  MELD can apply coatings without melting them to get all the benefits of solid state processing, including bigger and better components that are manufactured faster and with materials of your choice.

MELD is an excellent choice for coatings because it creates a metallurgical bond between the coating and the part.  The bond is so powerful, it can’t be broken even under extreme stress.

The example below shows tantalum (Ta) and niobium (Nb), very strong refractory materials, coated with copper.  The flat coated sample was bent into a U shape.  No cracks or delamination occurred even after the bond was tested this way in every axis possible.

Copper coatings on various materials
Copper coatings on various materials

Tantalum (Ta) and niobium (Nb), very strong refractory materials, coated with copper.