6K Additive, a division of 6K, headquartered in North Andover, Massachusetts, USA, has announced the commercial availability of refractory metal powders for Additive Manufacturing. Materials such as tungsten, rhenium, tungsten/rhenium and niobium-based powders used for defence, aerospace and medical industries are sought after materials for high-temperature, high-strength applications.
Frank Roberts, 6K Additive president, stated, “The leading defence organisations are not only looking for refractory materials like tungsten and rhenium, they are looking for it at production scale. The uniqueness of 6K’s UniMelt® microwave plasma process, combined with the expertise of our operations team, has allowed us to manufacture production scale volumes for many of the refractory powders like tungsten and tungsten/rhenium. We have spheroidised the full spectrum of refractory powders including tantalum, niobium and molybdenum and we are ready to help organisations advance their applications with these materials.”
The UniMelt system is reported to be the world’s only microwave production-scale plasma system, with a highly uniform and precise plasma zone with zero contamination and high throughput production capabilities. 6K Additive currently produces, as commercially available powders, Ti6Al4V (Grade 5 and Grade 23), SS316L and nickel superalloys Ni718 and Ni625, along with the announced refractory materials.
In 2020, 6K Additive completed the construction of a 4180 m2 powder production facility in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania, USA. The facility currently has two UniMelt microwave plasma systems commissioned with two additional systems scheduled for installation in Q4 of 2021. The company will also begin construction to expand the powder manufacturing building in Q4, 2021 to add space for six additional systems. Installation of the additional systems will begin in Q1 of 2022.
“We have a focus on propulsion applications that require high-temperature, high-strength materials used in modern rocket nozzle applications,” commented Joe Sims, Director of the Quadrus Advanced Manufacturing Division. “Our tungsten/rhenium powder spheroidised by 6K processed exceptionally well in our selective laser melting machines. Having a reliable, trusted supply chain partner like 6K Additive for refractory materials is critical to our business and to our defence customers. Our powder quality requirements are extremely high, and 6K Additive easily cleared that hurdle for us.”