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6K commissions first commercial Unimelt Microwave Plasma systems for AM powders

Microwave plasma technology company 6K (formerly Amastan) has announced that its AM division, 6K Additive, has commissioned the first two commercial UniMelt systems for the production of metal powders. The systems, which will be in operation at the company’s 40,000 square foot manufacturing plant in Bugettstown, PA, are capable of producing 100 tons of powder per year.

The commissioning of the two UniMelt systems, earmarked for the production of nickel super alloys and titanium powders, marks an exciting milestone for 6K, which hopes that its recycled powders will help the premium powder production industry move in a more sustainable direction.

6K UniMelt commission

“The commissioning of the first commercial UniMelt systems is the culmination of terrific work by experts in manufacturing, process and materials at both 6K Additive and our parent company 6K,” explained Frank Roberts, President of 6K Additive. “Customers and strategic partners have been eager to sample and use our Onyx powders and we’re ready to deliver. Accompanying the new UniMelt systems, the new facility encompasses automated manufacturing equipment and industry leading safety and health systems that confirm our organization is hitting our production goals while ensuring the utmost in safety for our employees.”

With its new commissioned systems, 6K is preparing to offer customer sampling for Onyx In718 powder as soon as August (Onyx Ti64 will follow soon after). The company is also proceeding with internal product qualification and third party printing. The UniMelt system is the world’s first microwave production-scale plasma with a highly uniform and precise plasma zone with no contamination. The high throughput technology is also unique in that it has the ability to transform chemistry machined millings, turnings and other scrap feedstock sources into premium metal powders suitable for additive manufacturing.

The technology can also spheroidize ferrous alloys, including SS17-4PH, SS316; other nickel superalloys such as Inconel 625, HX; cobalt-base alloys like CoCr; refractory metals like Mo, W, Re; reactive alloys such as Ti-6-4, TiAl; Al alloys; as well as high-temperature ceramics such as MY and YSZ. You can learn about 6K’s unique process in more depth in a recent interview 3dpbm conducted.

“Developments like sustainable feedstock combined with quality requirements are being embraced by organizations as they not only move toward green manufacturing but also create more efficient supply chains that use domestically sourced feedstock for powder production,” said Pete Basiliere, Managing Director of Monadnock Insights, a research and consulting firm focused on AM. “I congratulate 6K Additive on the commissioning of its first commercial facility and look forward to the impact the company will have on furthering sustainability in the AM space.”

The new facility is nearly complete and has the potential to be expanded in future, as the company is based at a large 45-acre site. The 6K Additive facility also has additional manufacturing bays, which will enable the company to eventually commission more UniMelt systems in 2021 to meet growing demand for premium AM powders.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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