6K (formerly Amastan), a leader in microwave plasma technology for the production of AM materials, has debuted a new premium additive manufacturing powder at Formnext today. The nickel-based material, Onyx In718, is being showcased at the Frankfurt trade show along with fifteen other metal alloys and ceramic powders.
6K has put forth a compelling offering in the metal AM sector with its capability to transform scrap turnings from subtractive manufacturing into premium metal powders suitable for powder bed fusion processes. The powder production process is dependent on 6K’s metals reclamation technology and its UniMelt microwave plasma system, which creates powders with high sphericity, zero porosity, no satellites and good flowability and tap density.
“Our mission is to provide a better business case for designers and users of additive manufacturing parts, and higher performance powders are a critical piece of that mission,” said Dr. Aaron Bent, 6K CEO. “Nickel alloy 718, which is critical for aerospace and industrial markets, is the perfect alloy to showcase the unique capability and powerfulness of the 6K powder production process. We are demonstrating powders and parts derived from both subtractive manufacturing certified turnings and powders rejuvenated after Laser-Powder Bed processing.”
6K is currently working with partners to pre-qualify the new Onyx In718 powder, which is expected to become commercially available in Q2 2020. Other powders, including Ti-AlV64, will follow.
6K presents 3D printed HEA part
In addition to presenting its Onyx powder series and introducing Onyx In718, 6K has also announced its ability to design and produce High Entropy Alloy (HEA) spherical powders. To demonstrate the capability, 6K has teamed up with U.S.-based AM research and advanced manufacturing solutions company Castheon to 3D print the world’s first metal alloy HEA part using a PBF system.
“This HEA1000 demonstrator is an example of the power of 6K UniMelt plasma production technology,” commented Dr. Bent. “We are fulfilling our desire to allow additive manufacturing designers to ‘Build Boldly’ by providing access to designer alloys not previously possible with today’s melt alloy or atomization processes. Our technology finally provides a scalable and cost-effective way to access non-eutectic parts in volume, and we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg.”
HEA1000 is described as an “experimental HEA spherical powder” that can be used in commercial consolidation processes such as AM, HIP or powder forging. The powder (and all HEA powders) combines a number of beneficial properties, including high strength, superior elongation, good strength-to-weight ratios and temperature stability.
The demonstrator part was 3D printed from a Fe-based alloy with “near identical” ratios of Cr, Cu, Co and Ni—a combination which had never been made into spherical powder nor 3D printed on a laser-based system. Castheon, which specializes in printing specialty alloys, was therefore the ideal partner to work with.
“We have 3D printed many exotic alloys for aerospace propulsion parts, which are considered non-printable,” explained Dr. Youping Gao, CEO of Castheon. “Yet, this is the first time we have printed a custom HEA alloy that has elements with extreme melting temperatures. No one today but 6K has provided Cr and Cu in the same alloy with almost equal concentrations for additive manufacturing and it’s simply not possible with melt eutectic alloying.”
The opportunity to print with HEA powders—which had previously been challenging—could enable the printing of high performance parts for aerospace, medical and other industrial applications.