6K & Castheon at Formnext to Present 3D Printable Designed Alloys


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As Formnext continues in Frankfurt through November 22nd, hundreds of exhibitors and many thousands of visitors are immersed in the world of additive manufacturing and all the innovative new software, hardware, and materials emerging for industrial users around the world. 6K is one of the exhibitors at this massive show, working in tandem with Castheon, an additive manufacturing research and solution provider from the US.

Castheon has partnered with 6K—a company developing microwave plasma technology and the fabrication of materials for AM applications—so that each company can complement the skills and resources of the other in designing high entropy alloy spherical powders.

The “Fe-based alloy, with near-identical ratios of Cr, Cu, Co, and Ni. This composition family has been studied significantly, but has never been made in spherical powder form nor laser printed.” If the firms commercialize the technology they could develop other made to order Designed Alloys that through there multiple materials could have unique characteristics. These alloys can be made up of several different materials (rather than regular alloys that have two). Some of these alloys can be tweaked and fine-tuned to have specific properties whilst several have already been found to have exceptional mechanical properties. The two innovators working together see unlimited possibilities for Designer Alloys due to their ‘perfect blend of elements,’ allowing for expanded customization. Indeed 3D printable Designed Alloys could be designed for very particular and specific applications. Specific alloys could be tweaked to not before seen combinations of qualities to be the perfect material for use in rocket propulsion for example. 3D printable Designed Alloys could even be much more specific, it could mean that one could develop a specific material only for one critical part of Hypergolic propellant tanks for one specific fuel. Rather than have costly to develop high-performance alloys that need many applications to be viable one critical application could make it more viable. Designed Alloys would mean that an optimal alloy for a very specific application or part can be designed to meet the exact needs of that exact part or application. If this technology could be commercialized it would mean that engineers and companies would have a new tool in their toolbox to make higher-performing 3D printed solutions.

At Formnext, they will be presenting the first metal alloy HEA part on a laser powder bed fusion printer. Along with HEA1000, the two companies will be introducing a variety of 15 metal alloys, ceramic powders, and sample parts for visitors to see at Hall 12, Stand E22.

“This HEA1000 demonstrator is an example of the power of 6K UniMelt plasma production technology,” said Dr. Aaron Bent, 6K CEO. “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.”

With the production of the novel HEA1000 material, both 6K and Castheon expect the experimental spherical powder to offer potential in commercial consolidation processes in additive manufacturing, as well as HIP and forging of powder.

“We have 3D printed many exotic alloys for aerospace propulsion parts, which are considered non-printable,” stated 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.”

Users can look forward to the following properties and features:

  • High strength
  • Superior elongation
  • Higher strength-to-weight ratios
  • Stable properties during a wide range of temperatures

“To date, introducing HEAs into production volume applications has been virtually impossible due to alloy manufacturing limitations and the scale available from melt processes. The availability of Onyx HEA expands the options for higher performance parts in aeroengines, airframes, industrial and medical applications, among others,” states the 6K team in their recent press release sent to 3DPrint.com.

6K currently possesses the metals reclamation technology to target powder size distribution in AM processes, including:

  • L-PBF
  • EBM
  • DED
  • Binder jetting
  • MIM

6K reports that for the first quarter of next year, they will be commissioning a new AM powder manufacturing plant in Pittsburgh, PA. They are also working with customers who can pre-qualify to sample Onyx In718 before it becomes available in the second quarter, along with the launch of Ti-AlV64 by 6K Additive in the third quarter.

Researchers and manufacturers around the world continue to study the science of powders and materials intensively, in relevance to 3D printing and additive manufacturing, from examining the future of metal technology to offering many possibilities in the realm of metal powders and even creating new products such as powder atomizers.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts; join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source / Images: 6K]

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