6K Additive, a division of 6K Inc., headquartered in Andover, Massachusetts, USA, and Wayland Additive, based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, UK, have announced that 6K Additive’s tungsten powder has been qualified for processing by Wayland’s NeuBeam Additive Manufacturing technology. The qualification is said to enable the production parts for nuclear applications, hypersonics as well as other applications in aerospace that require high-strength, heat resistant parts.
Tungsten is a refractory metal with a melting point 3422°C, the highest of any metal, making processing exceptionally challenging. Tungsten is known for its exceptional hardness, high melting point, and excellent thermal conductivity and has been widely used in various industries including aerospace, defence, energy and medical where these properties are highly sought after.
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Wayland Additive’s NeuBeam is an Electron Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-EB) process that effectively neutralises the charge accumulation generated by the electron beam, said to be a limitation of traditional e-beam technologies. Eliminating the charge removes the need for the pre-sintering of the bed, allowing parts to be easily removed without a hardened sinter cake. The NeuBeam process can reportedly produce fully dense parts in a wide range of materials, many of which are not compatible with traditional Electron Beam or Laser Beam PBF processes such as refractory metals and highly reflective alloys.
Will Richardson, CEO of Wayland Additive explained, “Wayland Additive has removed the barriers associated with traditional e-beam technologies with our NeuBeam process, allowing a wider range of metals and alloys to be additively processed. 6K Additive can produce these hard-to-process materials at scale, ready for use in the NeuBeam enabled Calibur3 system. We are particularly excited about the opportunities we are uncovering here in the UK for nuclear applications which require the material properties of tungsten.”
6K Additive’s production-scale microwave plasma process, UniMelt, precisely spheroidises metal powders while controlling the chemistry and porosity of the final product. This technology uses the microwave plasma process to manufacture many of the difficult to produce metal powders including refractories like tungsten, rhenium, tantalum, niobium and molybdenum. The process is reportedly significantly more environmentally sustainable and commercially viable than traditional atomisation technologies due to its yields of greater than 90% within the desired particle size as well as the ability to use scrap and revert as feedstock.
Frank Roberts, President of 6K Additive added, “The UniMelt process can create a virtually infinite range of materials, including hard-to-manufacture metals and alloys. While these materials have exceptional properties, they are equally hard to process with traditional AM technologies and often present commercial challenges due to their high cost. Through the combination of our two innovative technologies, 6K Additive and Wayland can produce and process metals that have previously proved elusive. The exceptional properties of refractory metals like tungsten can now be exploited fully through Additive Manufacturing, opening up exciting new applications in the nuclear, aerospace and defence sectors.”