6K, a developer of microwave plasma technology for the production of advanced materials headquartered in North Andover, Massachusetts, USA, and its business division, 6K Additive, has been awarded a Phase ll SBIR programme from the US government’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), following the strong success of its Phase I.
The Phase II programme supports the development and commercialsation of a domestic and commercially scalable supply chain for strategic high-performance metal powders from scrap sources.
Using 6K’s proprietary UniMelt® microwave plasma platform, the programme will demonstrate 6K’s capability to source, process and reclaim nickel superalloy scrap components, shop scrap, and used powders for conversion into aerospace-grade powders which will be used to additively manufacture real-world, discrete parts which will demonstrate functionality in test beds or systems.
Dr Aaron Bent, CEO of 6K, stated, “As a company we are certainly pleased with the award, but more importantly, we’re proud as an organisation to help our country create and control a domestic supply for alloys such as nickel used for emerging production methods like Additive Manufacturing. The recent COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of controlling supply chain and the renewed need for domestic production to avoid interruption of critical supplies.”
6K’s UniMelt plasma production system is capable of converting high-value metal scrap in numerous forms into high-performance metal powders for AM, Metal Injection Moulding (MIM) and other Powder Metallurgy (PM) production techniques.
In doing so, the company can reportedly provide access to a large domestic supply of strategically important metals and alloys such as nickel and titanium from machine shops, boneyards, and sources of other used materials which are critical to defence manufacturing.
The 6K process cleans, prepares, and spheroidises scrap alloys into high-quality powders with performance said to be superior to that of materials manufactured using atomisation technologies. This is expected to provide the US military with a secure, traceable and domestic supply of critical materials, while eliminating unexpected performance anomalies due to questionable sourcing from foreign supply.
6K has recently commissioned a new, approx. 3700 m2 state-of-the-art metal powder production facility and will begin shipping traditional powder products in the fall of 2020.