Amastan Technologies will be rebranding as a new company, 6K, which will make its debut at Formnext 2019. As part of its launch, the new company, which develops microwave plasma technology for the production of materials for AM, lithium ion batteries and more, has introduced metal additive manufacturing powders made from sustainable sources. The powders are produced using 6K’s unique UniMelt technology which is capable of transforming certified chemistry machined millings, turnings and other recycled feedstock sources into premium powder for AM.
6K’s powder manufacturing process combines two key elements: Alloy Reclamation technology and its UniMelt Plasma system. The former enables 6K to reclaim metals and alloys from waste created by subtractive manufacturing and other processes. To date, the company says it has reclaimed and sold over 500 tonnes of Ti-64 a year using this process for applications in the aerospace, medical and automotive industries.
The UniMelt Plasma system then comes into play, transforming the reclaimed metal materials into highly uniform and contamination-free powders. The system is the world’s only microwave production scale plasma and can produce powders not only for AM, but also for advanced batteries, phosphors and more.
“Our ability to reclaim materials and process almost any type of metal, alloy, or ceramic feedstock into premium powders, puts a powerful tool into the hands of the AM designer,” said Dr. Aaron Bent, CEO of 6K. “This now means that any alloy that is machined has the potential to become powder. Furthermore, we can create new AM powders previously not possible: powders engineered from non-eutectic alloys such as high-entropy alloys, or designer aluminum alloys capable of printing in powder bed fusion systems.”
The innovative metal reclamation technology developed by 6K produces powders that are highly uniform, with high sphericity, zero porosity as well as high flowability and tap density. As 6K explains, the process is also versatile and can produce powders that meet the requirements of various AM technologies, including MIM, L-PBF, EBM, DED or binder jetting. The material yield achievable using the UniMelt process is reportedly 3-4 times higher than gas atomization processes.
“If the AM industry is to succeed in expanding to a far greater number of parts and market applications, powder production technology has to advance to provide a far stronger business case,” added Dr. Bent. “Part of enabling that expansion will come from a lower total cost structure and higher performance powders, both of which are possible with 6K’s process. But we need to go beyond that, to powders and business models that consider the full production cycle cost of building AM parts.”
6K—named after the operating temperature of UniMelt (6,000 degrees)—is also in the process of building a 40,000-square-foot production facility for metal additive powders. The facility is expected to open in Q1 2020. Readers might also remember that Amastan Technologies recently acquired AI Solutions. As part of the recent rebranding, AI Solutions will become 6K Additive.