6K to ensure domestic supply of metal powders for US military

6K and 6K Additive has announced a near $1 million Phase II programme with the US Government’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to establish a domestic supply of high-performance metal powder from scrap sources.

Harnessing its UniMelt microwave plasma platform, 6K Additive will demonstrate its capability to source, process and reclaim scrap components and used powders before converting them into aerospace grade powders. The resulting material will then be used to manufacture, both additively and subtractively, real-world and ‘discrete’ parts, helping the US military to establish a secure, traceable domestic supply of critical materials and reduce its reliance on foreign imports.

Through this programme, the US military also expects to benefit from increased security as each step of material development is traceable, a faster time-to-field, and reduced costs thanks to ‘the use of already certified scrap as raw materials,’ which ‘dramatically reduces the material cost of goods for manufactured parts.’

The supply of metal powders via this programme will be enabled by 6K’s recently commissioned 40,000-square-foot metal powder production plant, equipped with UniMelt microwave plasma systems that can each produce up to 100 tonnes of powder per year.

Commenting on the Phase II programme with the DLA, 6K CEO Dr. Aaron Bent said: “As a company, we are certainly pleased with the award, but more importantly, we’re proud as an organisation to help our country 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.”

“Southwestern Pennsylvania’s job creators, innovators and hardworking employees are critical to our national defence and efforts to provide vital resources to our war-fighters,” added Pennsylvania Congressman Guy Reschenthaler. “I was proud to secure funding to reduce dependence on foreign titanium and utilise American ingenuity to protect our national security.”

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