6K has launched AM powders derived from sustainable sources. The 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, both of which are possible with 6K’s process. But we need to go beyond that, to powders and business models that consider the full production cycle cost of building AM parts.”
6K has developed a process technology that can produce premium powder from certified machining turnings and previously used powders, and in the future 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 per cent of the materials that enter the supply chain, providing AM end-users a new way to manage project costs and control supply chain, while also advancing progress toward a circular economy in AM.
6K’s powder products are the combination of two core technologies. First, alloy reclaimation technology: the ability to reclaim 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.
Secondly the 6K UniMelt plasma system: the world’s only microwave production scale plasma, with a highly uniform and precise plasma zone with zero contamination, and 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, puts 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. Furthermore, we can create new AM powders previously not possible: powders engineered from non-eutectic alloys such as high-entropy alloys, or designer aluminium alloys capable of printing in powder bed fusion systems.”
Due to the high uniformity of the microwave plasma, 6K has the ability to produce quality powders that provide high sphericity, zero porosity, elimination of satellites, and high flowability and tap density. Through its metals reclaimation strategy, 6K 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 per cent UniMelt process yield, as much as 3-4 times higher than gas atomisation.
It has also announced the rebranding of the company from Amastan Technologies to 6K. This is the latest in a series of strategic initiatives that reflect the company's growth over the last year, including the series B-2 funding of US$11M and the acquisition of AI Solutions (now 6K Additive). 6K Additive is a ISO9001 facility, processes over 500 tons of Ti-64 per year, and is in the process of building a state-of-the-art production facility for additive manufacturing powders, which is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2020.