AMS Spring 2023

6K Expands Metal 3D Printing Powder Line into Europe

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6K Additive has announced that the company will be expanding its commercial operations into Europe, naming François Bonjour as its European Sales Director. Bonjour has over 20 years of experience in sales across multiple relevant industries, including over a decade spent in the additive manufacturing (AM) sector.

6K Additive, along with 6K Energy, is one of the main divisions of Massachusetts-based 6K. The broader company focuses on discovering more sustainable methods for providing metals used in industrial processes, especially the production of battery cathode materials.

In a press release, Frank Roberts, president of 6K Additive, said, “We’re excited to bring our powders to the European market where a high value is placed on technologies that can contribute to the circular economy and meet their stringent quality metrics….Having a leader like François on the ground in Europe who has the experience, knowledge, and reputation will be invaluable as we ramp up our EU commercial efforts over the coming months. This is especially important given the interest we’ve seen from the printer OEMs and strategic customers based in Europe.”

6K Additive has been especially busy in 2022, following the company’s raising $51 million to expand production and commercial operations in its Series C round of financing last fall. In addition to raising another $102 million in May, in what was just the first tranche of its Series D financing, 6K also received $1.5 million in a grant from Massachusetts’ state government. The grant was for equipment used to recycle the scrap metals 6K turns into powders for AM and battery production.

$1.5 million is of course only 1 percent of the $150 million 6K received overall in its Series D round. However, it’s important to also keep in mind that federal funding for AM is probably going to continue increasing for the foreseeable future, and this is especially true for companies involved in renewable energy. Federal grants are obviously more likely to go to companies with a proven track record of wortwhile ROI from prior grants.

In this vein, perhaps 6K’s most important development so far this year, also in April, was the release of its first independent lifecycle assessment (LCA). The sustainability and energy firm Foresight Management determined that 6K’s UniMelt process uses 91 percent less energy, and emits 92 percent less carbon than traditional processes for producing nickel powders. Moreover, the potential for overall reductions in the emissions caused by metal supply chains multiplies further, when you consider 6K’s long-term emphasis on recycling. As 3DPrint.com’s editor-in-chief, Michael Molitch-Hou, put it, “It is therefore admirable that 6K has developed such a process, but what makes it all the more exciting is the possibility that UniMelt could be used to recycle existing metal parts.”

Clearly, this would also be a huge selling point in European markets, as well, as the company’s president noted. If, in the near future, there is indeed a large spike in mergers and acquisitions in the AM sector, 6K seems like a logical central node for the operations of a broader AM conglomerate.

Images courtesy of 6K

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