The qualification enables the production of hard-to-process tungsten powder to produce additive manufacturing parts for new nuclear applications, hypersonics as well as other applications in aerospace that require high temperature.
Pittsburgh, PA, and Huddersfield, UK, June 21, 2023 – 6K Additive, a division of 6K Inc. and leader in the sustainable production of materials for additive manufacturing, and Wayland Additive, developer of the NeuBeam metal additive manufacturing (AM) process, have announced that 6K Additive’s sustainably produced tungsten powder has been qualified for processing by Wayland’s NeuBeam print process to address new applications with parts made in the nuclear, aerospace and hypersonic sectors. This collaboration and qualification of 6K Additive’s tungsten powder will set the standard for high-strength, heat resistant parts that are printed using the NeuBeam technology.
Tungsten is a refractory metal with the highest melting point of any metal at 3422°C / 6191°F making processing exceptionally challenging. Tungsten is known for its exceptional hardness, high melting point, and excellent thermal conductivity. It has been widely used in various industries including aerospace, defense, energy and medical where its unique properties are highly sought after. The combination of the NeuBeam EBM technology and 6K Additive produced tungsten powder also addresses the requirements sought after in the nuclear market.
Will Richardson, CEO of Wayland Additive explained: “Wayland Additive has removed the barriers associated with traditional e-beam technologies with our NeuBeam process, allowing a wider range of metals and alloys to be additively processed. 6K Additive can produce these hard-to-process materials at scale, ready for use in the NeuBeam enabled Calibur3 system. We are particularly excited about the opportunities we are uncovering here in the UK for nuclear applications which require the material properties of tungsten.”
Frank Roberts, President of 6K Additive added: “The UniMelt process can create a virtually infinite range of materials, including hard-to-manufacture metals and alloys. While these materials have exceptional properties, they are equally hard to process with traditional AM technologies and often present commercial challenges due to their high cost. Through the combination of our two innovative technologies, 6K Additive and Wayland can produce and process metals that have previously proved elusive. The exceptional properties of refractory metals like tungsten can now be exploited fully through additive manufacturing, opening up exciting new applications in the nuclear, aerospace and defense sectors.”
6K Additive’s production-scale microwave plasma process, UniMelt®, precisely spheroidizes metal powders while controlling the chemistry and porosity of the final product. This revolutionary technology uses the microwave plasma process to manufacture many of the difficult to produce metal powders including refractories like tungsten, rhenium, tantalum, niobium and molybdenum. Yields of greater than 90% within the desired particle size as well as the ability to use scrap and revert as feedstock makes the process significantly more environmentally sustainable and commercially viable compared with traditional atomization technologies.
Wayland Additive’s NeuBeam is an e-beam powder bed fusion (PBF) process that effectively neutralizes the charge accumulation generated by the electron beam, which is a major limitation of traditional e-beam technologies. Eliminating the charge removes the need for pre-sintering of the bed, allowing parts to be easily removed without a hardened sinter cake. The NeuBeam process can produce fully dense parts in a wide range of materials, many of which are not compatible with traditional e-beam or laser PBF processes such as refractory metals and highly reflective alloys.
6K Additive is the world’s first producer of AM powder made from sustainable sources and offers a full suite of premium powder including nickel, titanium, copper, stainless steel, aluminum alloys and refractory metals such as tungsten, niobium (C103) and rhenium. The proprietary UniMelt system is the world’s only microwave production-scale plasma system, with a highly uniform and precise plasma zone with zero contamination and high throughput production capabilities. The UniMelt process produces powders that are truly spherical, void of porosity and satellites, with better flowability than other processes. Companies interested in working with 6K Additive regarding their specific powder requirements are urged to visit 6K Additive’s website 6KAdditive.com.