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$51M to Ramp up 6K’s Production of Batteries and 3D Printing Metals

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6K, the company behind the UniMelt microwave plasma platform that produces unique additive manufacturing powders, has closed a $51M Series C financing round. Volta Energy Technologies, the energy investment firm backed by some of the biggest names in energy and energy storage materials, is leading the new investment, with participation from new investors Catalus Capital and Prithvi Ventures sister fund, the S CAP ClimateTech Opportunity Fund, while existing backers Anzu Partners, Launch Capital, Material Impact, and RKS Ventures are investing once more.

Established in 2014, the North Andover, Massachusetts business is well known as a leader in producing high-quality, sustainable advanced materials for customers in the most demanding industries, like aerospace, automotive, healthcare, and dental. Focused on becoming the go-to company for 3D printing materials, 6K even established a specialized division called 6K Additive to develop refractory metal powders for AM. The company had highly publicized partnerships, collaborations, and grants in the last few years, including rocket manufacturer Relativity Space, the U.S. government’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), and government contractor Quadrus Corporation.

6K's UniMelt additive metal. 6K’s UniMelt additive metal. Image courtesy of 6K.

With its Series C round, 6K has now raised a total of $80 million in funding. 6K will be using the proceeds to expand product development and commercial activities across its multiple divisions: 6K Additive, 6K Energy, and 6K Future Materials. Moreover, the company said the latest funding supports the completion of its Battery Development Center of Excellence, adding 33,000 square feet of state-of-the-art product development space and doubling its 6K Energy team.

Once the site is launched during the first quarter of 2022, it will begin working toward the creation of sustainable battery materials for electric vehicles, grid storage, and consumer items thanks to roughly ten UniMelt systems capable of producing 100 tons of material from each system per year and fully capable of pilot production with up to 500 MWh of capacity. In preparation for the inauguration, 6K is currently sampling customers and developing products across NMC cathode powders, lithium-ion cells powders, silicon-dominant anode, lithium, solid-state electrolyte, and recycled cathode materials.

Funding will also enable a tripling of production capacity for 3D metal powders at its 6K Additive division, increase the portfolio of powder product offerings, and expand its commercial sales activities globally. Currently, 6K states it is the “only premium metal powder supplier for 3D printing produced from sustainable sources.” Following the commissioning of its 45-acre ISO9001 24/7 state-of-the-art powder production operations in 2020, 6K will now expand production with an additional 600 tons per year and set up sales and distribution in Europe and Asia.

6K Additive can produce Ti-64 spheres. 6K Additive can produce Ti-64 spheres. Image courtesy of 6K.

Along with the $51 million funding announcement, 6K revealed that Volta Energy Technologies Chief Investment Officer (CIO) Zander Arkin joins 6K as board Director, joining board members like former Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy III and Senior Vice President and Director of GE Global Research Mark Little.

“Our investment strategy focuses on technologies that bring a positive impact to the environment and contribute to the rapid adoption of electric vehicles and renewable energy on the grid,” commented Arkin. “Not only does 6K and its UniMelt platform align perfectly to our investment strategy, but the company is well poised to impact advanced material manufacturing for electric vehicle batteries with a solution that changes the dynamic of sustainability in the supply chain for battery materials.”

Focused on providing a solution for global decarbonization in the production of performance materials, critical to manufacturing and production infrastructure, 6K’s UniMelt plasma production system produces advanced performance materials in as little as two seconds versus days it takes traditional solid-state and chemical synthesis production processes. 6K claims that the UniMelt system displaces costly and wasteful legacy manufacturing approaches with a lower-cost, smaller footprint production technology, offering multifaceted sustainability benefits like no other material production platform in the world.

For example, the company states that if a legacy battery cathode production plant was replaced with 6K’s UniMelt platform, then 100% of solid waste and wastewater would be eliminated, energy usage and greenhouse gas generation would be reduced by up to 70%, and water usage would be decreased by 90%. Furthermore, the UniMelt production process can create products as varied as batteries, materials for electric vehicles, semiconductor materials, 3D printing powders, phosphors, advanced ceramics, and electronic materials, and much more.

6K CEO Aaron Bent said “this round of capital is a validation of 6K’s model to replace wasteful legacy production technologies with the UniMelt platform, enter scaled production, meet customer needs, move toward profitability, and transform industries. We are joined by world-class investors who are aligned with our vision to transform the way performance materials are produced. And in doing so, we are teaming to solve critical needs of the US and the planet, addressing climate change, supply chain security, and reducing the demand on our fragile and limited resources.”

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