6K Additive’s UniMelt process saves 91% of energy and 92% of carbon emissions

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  • Foresight Management completed its First Life Cycle Assessment of Additive Manufacturing Powder Process for 6K Additive
6K Additive’s UniMelt process
Above: 6K Additive’s UniMelt process/Image Source: 6K Additive

6K Additive, a division of 6K, the leader in the production of sustainable advanced materials for additive manufacturing and energy storage, has announced the results of an independent life cycle assessment (LCA) completed by Foresight Management, a leading sustainability and energy firm.

This is the first powder LCA for additive manufacturing that has been completed. It aimed to compare the quantifiable environmental impacts of traditional metal powder manufacturing methods and 6K Additive’s proprietary UniMelt® process. The results show that the UniMelt process significantly reduces environmental impact in key areas such as energy consumption and global warming, potentially assisting 6K Additive customers in lowering their carbon footprint through metal additive manufacturing.

Frank Roberts, 6K Additive president, said, “This assessment goes a long way in revealing how the UniMelt process exceeds traditional metal powder processing in environmentally important ways, while also pointing to the inefficiencies of atomization that currently plague AM material production. Sustainability is at the core of who we are at 6K Additive and providing our customers with quantifiable numbers related to the environment helps them move closer to zero carbon manufacturing with AM.”

Unimelt Process

Unimelt process is a plasma production technology capable of delivering a near infinite range of performance materials. It is a proprietary UniMelt® system from 6K that produces advanced materials used in additive manufacturing, battery material, and other industrial markets in a fast and environmentally friendly process. The UniMelt process for additive manufacturing precisely spheroidizes metal powders while controlling the chemistry and porosity of the final product. To produce advanced battery material at a fraction of the time and cost of conventional processes, the same sustainable process is used to synthesize chemical elements and control particle size and microstructure.

6K has the world’s only production-scale microwave-based plasma, supported by 126 patents and counting.

Grand Rapids, MI based Foresight Management conducts life cycle assessments on products for companies to help them understand the impact their processes have on a global environmental scale. Their methodology includes primary and secondary data, as well as using professional GaBi software to provide data detailing environmental impact of sourcing, refining, and processing.

“This is a cradle-to-end user assessment of the UniMelt technology. We studied all known industrial processes from raw material acquisition and processing up through manufacturing and customer distribution. This assessment focused on nickel and titanium powders, both of which saw significant advantages when made using UniMelt process. The nickel results showed the UniMelt required 91% less energy and reduced carbon emissions by 92% and the titanium results showed the UniMelt required at minimum, 74% less energy and reduced carbon emissions by 78%.”

– Brad Van Valkenburg, sustainability manager at Foresight

Organizations are beginning to look to their suppliers for statistics that will assist them in their sustainability journey. Many businesses are now looking for hard data to back up their sustainability claims, and this study provides 6K Additive customers with valuable information that will help them advance their additive manufacturing initiatives. 6K Additive is the world’s first manufacturer of AM powder derived from renewable resources, and its UniMelt system is the only microwave production-scale plasma with a highly uniform and precise plasma zone that offers zero contamination. UniMelt can produce advanced materials with high throughput, such as nickel 718/625, titanium64 grade 5/23, copper 18450/GRCop, stainless steel 316/17-4, and refractories like tungsten and tantalum. Companies interested in working with 6K Additive on their specific powder requirements should visit their website.

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