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3D printing entails many advantages for industries such as in the defense field. Mainly, it can simplify logistics, because military units can transport just the technology and raw materials, rather than every spare part or weapon, and soldiers trained as technicians in 3D printing have been able to produce customized parts. A new 3D printing technology creates metal components instead of plastic. And it does so without melting anything. Instead, the machines produce large, industrial-scale parts by using a combination of friction and pressure to get the metals hot enough to deform, but not hot enough to melt.
The technology has gauged interest from potential customers in massive industries, including defense, aerospace, aviation, automotive and trucking.
Like traditional 3D printing, a robotic arm passes over a plate repeatedly, adding a little material each time and building the desired shape layer by layer. Because the process doesn’t use lasers, there’s no limit to how large the machines can get. Materials such as steel and titanium lose a lot of desirable properties when they’re heated beyond their melting points; primarily they may become weaker. The new technology promises to allow industrial customers to print or repair metal components that will hold up over time, according to roanoke.com.
MELD Manufacturing Corporation is a new subsidiary of 20-year-old tech firm Aeroprobe, known for its air sensors, which it sells across the globe. The company recently began building smaller versions that attach to drones, providing real-time data on wind speed, temperature and GPS. It works with industry giants including Tesla, NASA, Toyota, Volvo and Boeing.
The University of Alabama was the first to receive MELD’s machine, experimenting with ways the printers could recycle old military equipment, like damaged armor, into usable parts.