6K Additive, a division of 6K, a producer of engineered materials for additive manufacturing and lithium-ion batteries, and Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT, a center for contract research in laser development and application, are developing a complete life cycle assessment (LCA) for additive manufacturing. The study will use sustainably manufactured Ni718 powder produced by 6K Additive, for an industrial component manufactured on a laser powder bed fusion machine to better understand the carbon footprint from material through additive manufacturing process and post-processing.
“There are conflicting views on additive manufacturing regarding its environmental impact compared to traditional manufacturing. The goal for this study is to analyse factual data to help us understand the real environmental impact for printing a metal AM part using LPBF,” said Dr Jasmin Saewe, Head of Department Laser Powder Bed Fusion at Fraunhofer ILT. “We also thought it was extremely important to evaluate the entire process, including powder manufacturing, which is why we partnered with 6K Additive, who has a proven method of sustainable powder manufacturing.”
6K Additive previously released two life cycle assessment projects for both titanium and nickel powders. This study was conducted by Foresight Management, an independent company that quantified the environmental impacts associated with the production of printable metal powders and specifically compared atomization technology methods to 6K Additive’s. It was found that for Ni718 powder, 6K’s UniMelt process at minimum delivered a 91% energy reduction and 92% carbon emission reduction from traditional processes.
Frank Roberts, president of 6K Additive added, “We are excited to partner with Jasmin and her team at Fraunhofer ILT for this research. Our previous study clearly highlighted the environmental advantages our UniMelt® technology has over atomization, but this collaboration takes it to the next step shedding light on the entire AM process. The market has embraced sustainability and the results of this study will provide the tools to allow customers to identify real solutions and help organizations drive toward carbon neutrality.”
As a reminder, 6K Additive provides a full suite of premium powder including nickel, titanium, copper, and refractory metals such as tungsten and rhenium. The proprietary UniMelt system is a microwave production-scale plasma system, with a highly uniform and precise plasma zone with zero contamination and high throughput production capabilities.
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