Meltio is a Spanish 3D printing company that has barely been on the market for 5 years and has already managed to become a “strategic technological partner” of the United States Department of Defense, thanks to a method that is scalable and has numerous applications. We spoke with Ángel Llavero López de Villalta, CEO of Meltio, about the potential and future of this technology.
Did you know that the United States Navy has 3D printers on board its US Bataan ship? Curiously, this ship can repair its metal parts wherever it goes thanks to a Spanish company whose name you will hear often for years to come.
We refer to Meltio, a company founded in 2019 in Linares (Jaén) that uses the the most cutting-edge technology on the current market in 3D printing and that, recently, it has become a “strategic technological partner” of the United States Department of Defense.
Something that has earned it the prestigious recognition xTechInternational Advanced Manufacturing and Materials, together with its distributor in the US, Phillips Corporation.
However, the use of its technology based on welding wire is not limited to the Defense sector, but to many others such as the healthcare or automotive sectors, as he explained to computer today Ángel Llavero López de Villalta, CEO of Meltio.
To give us an idea, 3D printing has been around for more than 20 years, although historically it has had some characteristics that have not allowed it to be a truly scalable or applicable business.
The first of these, the format of the material with which the parts are manufactured, which in the case of 99% of 3D printers in the last 20 years, has been that of metal dust, which has negative consequences, such as being explosive.
Besides, is carcinogenic to employeeswith which protection PPE is needed to operate.
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On the other hand, the dust is very finite and that metal It can slip through any site becoming a sandpaper. “That with the industry gets along very badly,” recalls the CEO of Meltio.
Although not only the format of the material is important, but also the fact that Meltio has managed to come up with a technology that will mark the day-to-day life of people and industries for years to come. A revolution that Meltio has already started.
A breath of fresh air for 3D printing
In practice, the 3D printing market has not changed significantly in recent years. Until the Meltio technology arrived, based on welding wire.
Since 2007, Llavero has another company specializing in the distribution of 3D technology, sicnova, so it has already known this market for more than 15 years. In 2019, ArcelorMittal told them about a technology created by a 3-person company in the US and offered them the necessary support.
Llavero saw in the welding wire the potential to change the future, and he was not mistaken. He came up with a model capable of reducing environmental impact, increasing worker safety and saving energy and production costs, among other benefits.
As explained by the CEO of Meltio, the approximate cost of metal powder is between 3 and 8 times higher than that of welding wire. In addition, the waste of the powder, in the best of cases, is 20%; at worst, 50%. “With the thread you take advantage of 100% of the material,” adds Llavero.
Added to this is the energy savings of the laser technology used by the Jaén company, which is the first additive manufacturing laser metal deposition (LMD) installed on board a US Navy ship.
Meltio uses several low power lasers aimed at the same point. This means that you can choose the desired power and there is greater flexibility in the control and manufacturing process, since otherwise “the cost of lasers is exponential.”
On the other hand, the Meltio head makes it possible to avoid the limitations to manufacture metal parts in a size from 40 cm to 100 cm. “Either there was no technology, or the technology was worth millions,” he recalls.
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Meltio’s 3D printing technology not only allows reducing costs and making the entire manufacturing process cheaper, but it is also capable of producing billions of pieces per year for very diverse fields that cover not only industry, but also consumption.
Gold or titanium luxury watches, lighter rims for electric cars, optimizing the aerodynamic design of racing vehicles… Or as we mentioned before, being able to solve the problem wherever you are, like an offshore oil station or a ship.
“Instead of having a giant warehouse of parts, with our spools of welding wire you manufacture the part as you need it,” explains Llavero.
“This is the new market and the new change that the digital economy and the digitization of the industry will cause in segments such as industrial maintenance or the supply chain, in addition to not depending so much on third parties and having a greater capacity to be autonomous” , add.
In this way, problems such as ship jam that occurred with the Ever Given in the Suez Canal (Egypt) or the consequences of a war, thanks to a technology that Meltio puts on the table for the first time in the history of the industry as a real option.
As if these benefits were not enough, Meltio has opened the door to make molds to make plastic parts much more efficiently than what we have seen in recent years. He illustrates this with the example of a medical knee replacement.
With the previous method, the cost of a non-personalized knee prosthesis was around 2,000 or 3,000 euros, while a personalized one could reach up to 10,000 euros.
“With our technology, the cost of manufacturing a personalized titanium prosthesis for you does not exceed 50 euros”, highlights the CEO of Meltio. That is to say, a cost reduction of 99.5% compared to.
For this reason, Llavero believes that this new market will only grow, and that from the time we wake up until we go to bed, we will find a product directly or indirectly related to Meltio.
“I am convinced that what is being seen today from Meltio is only a small percentage of how far we are going to be able to take this technology and its implications”, he concludes.