The 6K company’s first-of-its-kind process has the ability to convert certified chemistry machined millings, turnings and other recycled feedstock sources into premium AM-ready metal powder.
“If the AM industry is to succeed in expanding to a far greater number of parts and market applications, powder production technology has to advance to provide a far stronger business case,” commented Aaron Bent, CEO at 6K. “Part of enabling that expansion will come from a lower total cost structure and higher performance powders. But we need to go beyond that, to powders and business models that consider the full production cycle cost of building AM parts.”
The copmany’s process technology produces premium powder from certified machining turnings and previously used powders. In future, it will extend its capability to feedstock created from AM support structures, non-conforming AM parts post-print, and other unique inputs. The goal is to use 100% of the materials that enter the supply chain, providing AM end-users with a new way to manage project costs and control the supply chain. It will also advance progress toward a circular economy in AM.
The company’s powder products are a combination of two core technologies: reclamation and a plasma system.
Reclamation technology reclaims metals and alloys from subtractive manufacturing and other operations. The 6K Additive team is already reclaiming and selling over 500 tons of Ti-64 per year into the aluminium alloying industry for aerospace, medical, and automotive products. This provides an engineered feedstock for Amastan’s UniMelt plasma for a wide continuum of alloys.
The company’s UniMelt plasma system is the world’s only microwave production scale plasma, with a highly uniform and precise plasma zone with zero contamination. It is capable of high throughput production of advanced battery powders, phosphors, AM materials, and more.
“Our ability to reclaim materials and process almost any type of metal, alloy, or ceramic feedstock into premium powders put a powerful tool into the hands of the AM designer,” continued Dr. Bent.
“This now means that any alloy that is machined has the potential to become powder.”
Due to the high uniformity of the microwave plasma, 6K can produce powders that provide high sphericity, zero porosity, elimination of satellites, and high flowability and tap density. Through its metals reclamation strategy, it can specifically target the powder size distribution to the AM process of need: MIM, L-PBF, EBM, DED or Binder-jetting, thus enabling almost 100% UniMelt process yield, as much as 3-4 times higher than gas atomization.