New Christiansburg business expansion, MELD, changing way metal is made

Published: Apr. 12, 2018 at 10:07 PM EDT
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A company expansion in Montgomery County could be the answer to higher costs on imported metals.

Aeroprobe in Christiansburg says its new company expansion, MELD, makes metal in an entirely different fashion. Unlike most metals which are melted to be put into place, MELD keeps the metal in a solid state, and according to those working there, it creates a better quality metal.

Aeroprobe and MELD CEO Nanci Hardwick explained, “You see better properties in your final part, you have more opportunities for the types of materials that you can use, and because there is no laser, you are able to do it in open atmosphere.”

The company says the process is spinning the metal, causing friction which warms the metal. The machine adds pressure causing more friction and it makes the metal.

It's a process MELD said is faster and more cost effective than standard metal work.

MELD Additive Manufacturing Manager Chase Cox said, “We don't have a restrictive pipeline of materials that can go in there, so we don't have proprietary powders that you need to use in the melt-based technologies, they're very sensitive to material that goes into them.”

Possibly even better now is this process, which the company has been perfecting for the last decade, could be the answer to recent tariffs on imported metal.

“It's really exciting to think an innovative new technology that will touch every neighborhood, every company that manufactures, has been born here in Montgomery County,” Hardwick said.

In fact, one company in attendance for Thursday's announcement, Metelsa, is a major automotive building company whose CTO said he’s excited to be using this technology from MELD.

Sean Fleming explained, “You've got construction, you've got agriculture, you've got aerospace. These guys, some of the same issues we deal with in automotive, same key issues that are going to be in the other sectors.”

Something discussed a lot Thursday was additive manufacturing. That means adding metal to existing structures or repairing damages. In fact, this material can fix damages that were previously irreparable.

Now that the announcement has been made the company will commercialize their technology and be presenting to companies outside Virginia to spread the word about what MELD can do.

To learn more about MELD,

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