It all began with stargazing. As a young girl, Melanie Lang spent hours tracking meteor showers and locating constellations. This led to model planes, rockets, and visions of space exploration. While young Melanie never exactly dreamed of becoming a female entrepreneur and co-founding a metal additive manufacturing (AM) company, that’s where she landed when she set her sights on the stars.
As the first person in her family to go to college, Melanie had no model to follow. “I was strongly encouraged by my family, but there were very few women in engineering when I went to college and only a handful in aerospace,” she recalled. “I just followed my passion. I think focusing on that helped me break down any arbitrary limits society may have set for me.” After becoming an aerospace engineer, Melanie worked for industry giants for 15 years.
Melanie notes that she consistently received support and positive reinforcement from multiple mentors throughout her career. “I’ve really had a wonderful experience as a woman in the manufacturing industry,” she said. “I honestly think that being a woman and a first generation American from a small town have helped me because I have a unique perspective to offer.”
When Melanie became interested in AM through maker fairs, she sat her gaze on earthly pursuits: how to apply 3D printing in the aerospace and defense industries. Collaborating with her co-founder, Jeff Riemann, Melanie got FormAlloy up and running while maintaining her full-time job.
FormAlloy focuses on Directed Energy Deposition (DED) systems and services. The company employs high-quality and precise metal powder and wire deposition capabilities for additive manufacturing—giving manufacturing customers the flexibility they want and the efficiency they need.
“I saw the need for additive in aerospace and defense, and I knew we could fill that need,” she explained. “We are able to address some of the biggest challenges in manufacturing—reshoring, lead time, tooling costs, and the desire to bring more work in house.”
A dedicated mentor, Melanie is actively involved in both promoting and recruiting young women. She is a board member of AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, an ambassador for Women in 3D Printing, and participates in several community groups.
“It is up to today’s leaders to ensure that we continue to expand our diversity and inclusivity,” she concluded. “Representation matters. I hope when young women see me, they see that manufacturing is not a man’s world.”
Far from a man’s world, manufacturing has enough space for all the stars in the industry—and Melanie is certainly a bright star.