3D-Printing Powders

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Relativity Space (Los Angeles, CA), the world’s first autonomous rocket factory and launch services leader for satellites, and 6K, a developer of microwave plasma technology for the production of advanced materials used in additive manufacturing, lithium ion batteries and other industrial markets, announced a strategic partnership to prove true sustainability in additive manufacturing production. The partnership is intended to create a closed loop supply chain where certified scrap materials produced at Relativity are turned into powder by 6K, which can then be reprinted by Relativity. The two companies will also explore new materials created specifically for rocket manufacturing and space travel.

“Relativity is completely reimagining the aerospace supply chain, by creating an autonomous robotic factory that can additively manufacture a rocket in 60 days. This partnering with 6K will add another important element to our very unique approach: the ability to reuse materials,” said Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity.

Dr. Aaron Bent, CEO of 6K added, “Relativity is pushing the boundaries of additive manufacturing by 3D printing a complete rocket. Our ability to turn their used powder and parts into premium powder through the UniMelt process provides them with a sustainable source for AM powder.”

As part of the collaboration, the two companies have signed an agreement detailing a three-phase approach from a proof of concept all the way through a Relativity printed part. The project will prove out the process of taking scrap material produced directly at Relativity, utilizing 6K’s UniMelt proprietary process to deliver premium certified powder to a final printed part suitable for Relativity’s production. Working with the 6K process ensures Relativity will have complete line of sight and control of their supply chain while ensuring certified AM chemistry for production parts that are suitable for the rigors of a rocket launch and space travel.

Lastly, both organizations see sustainability as a key requirement for production. Creating high-quality additive powders from something that was previously viewed as machine scrap showcases that the process significantly contributes to a circular economy and positions Relativity and 6K as pioneers of sustainability in additive manufacturing production.

In 2019, 6K launched the world’s first premium metal powders for additive manufacturing derived from sustainable sources. 6K’s UniMelt microwave plasma is the first-of-its-kind process that has the unique ability to convert certified chemistry machined millings, turnings and other recycled feedstock sources into premium AM-ready metal powder. 6K also demonstrated the world’s first HEA part, opening limitless possibilities for having a ‘perfect blend’ of elements to tailor properties, such as high strength coupled with superior elongation, higher strength-to-weight ratios, or stable properties over a wider range of temperatures.

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