U.S. company 6K, which has locations in West Virginia and Massachusetts, uses proprietary advanced plasma processing to develop AM powders from sustainable sources. The company is so named for its continuous UniMelt process, which it says is the world’s only microwave production-scale plasma; 6K represents 6,000°, which is the UniMelt’s temperature of operation, in addition to the temperature of the sun’s surface. 6K has been busy recently, announcing a $1 Million Defense Logistics Agency phase II award for recovering, converting, and commercializing defense scrap into high-performance metal AM powders, as well as a strategic partnership with Relativity Space to use its sustainable materials for the creation of 3D printable rocket parts.
The latest announcement from 6K and 6K Additive is on the business side of things, with the addition of half a dozen experienced AM experts to its metal powder production team.
“Adding these experienced leaders to the team underpins our strategy of advancing premium powders in the additive manufacturing space. Each new member brings deep domain expertise as well as an incredible passion for success, quality and leadership to the team,” stated Frank Roberts, President of 6K Additive. “Their combined 100+ year’s expertise in AM powder, materials engineering and metallurgy will allow us to rapidly achieve the quality and production demands brought about by leading organizations in the medical, aerospace and defense markets who drive the application requirements for advanced materials.”
These important technical and production hires have plenty of experience in powder manufacturing, process, and quality, and will support the company’s Onyx premium AM powder launch. I’m writing about the new additions here in alphabetical order.
Eric Bono has been appointed as the Vice President of Sales for the 6K Additive division. With more than 25 years of experience in powder sales and executive leadership through previous engineering and business development positions at Carpenter Technology, Puris AM powders, Summit Materials, and FMW Composite Systems, Bono will be a good addition to the commercial team.
“Having a world-class leader like Eric at the helm for our North American powder team will accelerate our commercial sales activities and greatly deepen our relationships with global end-user accounts in aerospace, defense, medical and industrial markets,” said Dr. Aaron Bent, CEO for 6K. “Eric’s strong rapport spans across the supply chain from his business development experience with not only metal powder but also additively manufactured end-use parts which will directly translate to increased penetration for 6K.”
6K’s new Director of Process for Additive, Dr. George Meng, previously worked at GE Aviation, where he created and industrialized a Plasma Suspension Spray coating powder, in addition to a no-line-of-sight thermal spray process for a critical, large-format Ti-based system. At GE Power, where he was in charge of developing and industrializing abradable coatings for gas turbine engines, Dr. Meng won the world’s highest manufacturing engineering award, and before GE, developed new gas atomized powders at Praxair Surface Technologies.
The next new team member is John Meyer, who was previously the Principal Metallurgist in charge of powder technology and process improvement at Carpenter Technology Corporation. He also managed the powder metallurgy group of Carpenter’s five global powder production facilities, and has served as the Materials Subcommittee Chairman for the SAE Aerospace Material Systems – Additive Manufacturing standards since 2016. Meyer, who is also a member of the ASM International and American Powder Metallurgy Institute, will serve as the Director of Technology, AM Products, at 6K.
Another 30+ year veteran in AM powders, Joe Muha, will join the 6K team as Quality Manager, AM Products. For 15 years, he was responsible for research and quality assurance at Crucible Research, before moving on to Quality Engineer and Chem Lab Supervisor for ATI Powder Metals. Most recently, Muha was Principle Powder Metallurgist for Carpenter Powders Products and Quality Engineer.
Dave Novotnak, for whom I don’t have an image, will be 6K’s Production Process Manager, AM Products, after spending more than 30 years as a materials and metallurgical engineering expert at various other companies. 20 of those years were spent progressing powder manufacturing processes as Senior Materials Engineer at Carpenter Powders Products, and Novotnak was also a Senior Metallurgical Engineer at Pratt & Whitney for 14 years, so he has direct experience with materials application in the aerospace industry. If 6K continues on its current path, this will be very helpful indeed.
That does it for 6K’s newest employees, but it has more good news: Magnus René, the former CEO of Arcam, has joined the company’s advisory board. Dr. Bent explained that the addition of René to the board, who is also a current board member for SLM Solutions, was “strategic for 6K on several fronts,” due to his vast AM experience and managing Arcam so well “through organic growth combined with acquisitions.”
“I am excited to join 6K’s advisory board. As organizations expand their additive manufacturing production capabilities, sourcing and handling of metal powders will be increasingly critical,” René said. “6K has the technology and ability to deliver high performance, sustainably recycled powders which is not only needed from an environmental view but also necessary to bring cost down.”
A company is only as good as the people who lead and work for it, so I’d say with these new additions, 6K and 6K Additive are in a pretty good position to continue growing.
6K recently commissioned its first two UniMelt microwave plasma production systems for Ti64 and nickel alloy production. The unique technology has a precise, uniform plasma zone with zero contamination and can also produce advanced materials, like Onyx In718 and Onyx Ti64 AM powders, and spheroidize ferrous and reactive alloys, refractory metals, high-temperature ceramics, and other nickel superalloys, like Inconel 625.
(Images courtesy of 6K unless otherwise noted)
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