6K Additive on Why RAPID + TCT Is the Place to Find the Right People to Grow AM

Published on May 13, 2024 by Madeleine P.
6K Additive

As RAPID + TCT 2024 approaches, one of the most exciting event features is undoubtedly the exhibitors. But with over 400 expected to attend, it is hard to know where to start. To give a better idea of what can be expected this year, we decided to sit down with some of the major companies who will be attending, starting with 6K Additive. The innovative material manufacturer has been a mainstay at RAPID + TCT since it formed in 2019 and we had the opportunity to chat with Frank Roberts, its president, to learn more about the company and why the event is so important for the wider additive manufacturing community in the US.

3DN: Could you introduce yourself and 6K Additive?

My name is Frank Roberts and I am the President of 6K Additive. I am a metallurgical engineer by education and spent the first half of my career in mill products, supporting titanium and nickel-based alloy production for the aerospace industry. I left a big publicly traded company and went to work at a small business that I later acquired.

We built up here in Pittsburgh and that is where we met the team at 6K and were first introduced to the company’s revolutionary Microwave-Based Plasma Technology, called UniMelt, and decided that we would merge the entities into what became 6K Additive, a metal alloy producer with a unique method to produce spherical powders for metal AM. After our deal with 6K in 2019, we built a powder facility and we have a unique process to create powders because it is not atomization (either plasma or gas). Rather we do spheroidization.

This means we are taking revert materials from the subtractive and the additive industries. We then put them through a vetting operation, usually a sizing operation. We will size materials down and create an engineered feedstock that is the right elemental chemistry of whatever material we are looking for and it’s the right volume of particulate for LPBF, so 15-35 microns. These sizing operations are done in a low-cost, highly efficient manner. At the end, it is the wrong shape, so we leverage the microwave-plasma to spheroidize that particulate into highly spherical powders which behave with high repeatability and have the right characteristics

6K Additive makes innovative powders for use with laser-powder fusion solutions

for LPBF applications.


3DN: Why is it important to be at RAPID + TCT?

From our perspective, RAPID + TCT is the premier venue for additive manufacturing in the United States. We have been going since 6K Additive was formed. And though obviously at that time, we had a much smaller footprint, we knew already that it was the place to be for AM in the US.

Taking it even further, from a metal AM perspective, even more specifically from a metal powder prospective, this market is growing significantly and rapidly, and the event is an opportunity to engage in a one-stop shop to get out and  connect not only with our current customer base, but also with people looking for new materials, new suppliers. Furthermore, we can nurture our relationship with OEMs. It is always a great turnout and there are always the right people who are attending the show to maintain that contact.

As we continue to scale up and engage more with the market, we need more touch points with customers. That’s a big topic in the industry, as metal AM is moving towards commercialization and adoption grows. That is key, above all with sectors like medical where you can see the highest level of producers attending. And we have seen all sectors with end-users from aerospace, defense, medical implants and devices, oil & gas, and much more.

6K Additive at RAPID + TCT

6K Additive has had a presence at RAPID + TCT since its founding, seen here in 2021 (photo credits: Fabbaloo)

What we see at RAPID + TCT is that it is possible to have more strategic and collaborative partnership conversations. You have the C-Suite of attendees going to the show as well as the commercial teams, the buyers and sellers, and everyone is able to link up. Additionally, as a supplier, we can clearly see how we can better serve the market as commercial and technical conversations are everywhere.

3DN: What is 6K Additive showcasing this year?

From a product standpoint, we will continue to promote our nickel, stainless steel, copper, the classics, but a showcase this year will be the refractory alloys. We have a unique capability there that we are working on scaling right now. C103 is a niobium-based alloy, used a lot in hypersonic applications. And we’re starting to see a lot more companies who are figuring out how to work successfully with more difficult materials and this is something we have catered to process in a sustainable method.

The other side is sustainability in general, that is who we are as a people. To make 6K Additive products, nothing comes from the dirt, and in the end, nothing goes into the dirt either. We are not mining ore to support our process and our goal is to generate no waste. This message will be on display at RAPID + TCT as we can show suppliers how we can lower carbon footprints with these materials. We will also touch upon qualification, notably our recent successes with power producers.

Sustainability is at the core of what 6K Additive does, even receiving an award from the AMGTA

3DN: What do you expect from the show?

Thinking about where we sit, it will all be about expanding and furthering our current relationships and starting to develop new relationships. And as I mentioned earlier, that is what brings us to RAPID + TCT each year.

It is here that we are able to showcase new materials and clearly show how they can be used to meet stringent demands. And we are really looking forward to not only meeting new people but to develop> these deeper relationships and also move to greater collaboration as an industry.

3DN: Any last words for our readers?

As the industry continues to grow and change and evolve and new opportunities are coming, RAPID + TCT is the best venue in the US to get out there and continue to further that evolution and that path forward!

For 6k, where we are moving the needle is in sustainability but for this to be successful, we need to be meeting quality standards and be able to produce at scale. Moreover, collaboration is more important than ever and we need to be working together more. Whether for a wider range of AM compatible materials or better specs. And that is where we as material providers and the OEMs and the end users, we need to connect the dots and RAPID + TCT is the best place for that to happen. If you haven’t already, be sure to get your complimentary Expo Pass HERE.

Will you see 6K at RAPID + TCT 2024? Let us know in a comment below or on our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages! Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly newsletter here for the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox! You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.

*Cover Photo Credits: 6K Additive

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