Melito has partnered with Ziknes to develop a robotic metal 3D printer.
Meltio is an up-and-coming joint venture between Sicnova and Additech that markets a line of metal 3D printers that use a wire additive manufacturing process. As the wire is extruded forward, a powerful laser instantly melts the material, which is deposited on a surface. By moving the toolhead around in 3D space, it’s possible to build solid metal 3D objects.
Wire approaches can offer significant benefits over powder methods in many application scenarios. This is because the challenges of powder handling are eliminated and thus wire processes are less expensive and more accessible by small to medium-sized businesses. In addition to financial and ease-of-use benefits, wire printing can also use a wide variety of metals, some of which are challenging to 3D print using other printing processes.
While there are several wire-based AM system on the market, Meltio’s is unique in that it can handle two different metal wires simultaneously. This makes it possible to 3D print metal objects in more than one material.
Meltio offers their own M450 metal 3D printer, but they interestingly also offer their toolhead technology as an integration package. The idea is to integrated the Meltio toolhead into other manufacturing systems. They offer two approaches, with one being for CNC equipment. This would allow a 3D object to be built, but also machined during a single job.
The other approach offered by Meltio is a robotic integration, where the toolhead can be mated with a robotic arm (or arms, I suppose) to create a larger-scale metal 3D printing system. The robotic arm can build as far as it can reach.
The news is that Meltio has partnered with startup company Ziknes to create just such a machine. Called the “Z-Metal One”, the robotic system allows creation of metal objects.
But it’s not as simple as pasting a toolhead on a robot. Ziknes has spent considerable effort to design the Z-Metal One to be “plug and play”. Meltio explains:
“Ziknes has worked hand in hand with the Meltio team since 2021 to devise a system that is ready for use by the end customer as soon as it arrives at their facilities and offers a complete hardware and software solution with which to 3D print in metal. The Z Metal-One includes a self-supporting structure with a robot, a positioner, and Meltio’s laser head. This integration is made possible by Meltio Engine, Meltio’s hybrid manufacturing module that allows 3D printing to be combined with CNC machining centers or robotic arms. Ziknes chose this technology in its efforts to make the industrial sector a more sustainable activity in which waste, emissions and energy use are reduced.”
The Z Metal-One includes not only the robot, but all other required pieces to immediately undertake metal 3D printing, including a positioning table, automation software and more.
This is quite important, because robotic systems are notoriously complex to operate. This certainly has been a barrier to some organizations adopting robotic technology. Fortunately, Ziknes has designed the Z Metal-One to not require any robotic knowledge before operating the device.
This partnership demonstrates one of Meltio’s key business propositions, and opens the door to further 3D print innovation by leveraging their unusual tech.