6K, a developer of microwave plasma technology for the production of advanced materials used in Additive Manufacturing, lithium ion batteries and other industrial markets, has announced at Formnext 2019 that it can successfully design and produce High Entropy Alloy (HEA) spherical powders.
By partnering with Castheon, a US-based Additive Manufacturing research and comprehensive advanced manufacturing solutions provider, the two companies have additively manufactured what is stated to be the world’s first metal alloy HEA part on a Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF) machine. Onyx HEA1000 and over fifteen other metal alloys, ceramic powders and parts are premiering at Formnext in Frankfurt, November 19-22, 2019, Stand E22 in Hall 12.
“This HEA1000 demonstrator is an example of the power of 6K UniMelt plasma production technology,” commented Dr Aaron Bent, 6K CEO. “We are fulfilling our desire to allow Additive Manufacturing designers to ‘Build Boldly’ by providing access to designer alloys not previously possible with today’s melt alloy or atomisation processes. Our technology finally provides a scalable and cost-effective way to access non-eutectic parts in volume, and we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg.”
HEA1000 is an experimental HEA spherical powder for use in commercial consolidation processes such as Additive Manufacturing, HIP or powder forging. HEAs open 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.
To date, introducing HEAs into production volume applications has been virtually impossible due to alloy manufacturing limitations and the scale available from melt processes. The availability of Onyx HEA expands the options for higher performance parts in aeroengines, airframes, industrial and medical applications, among others.
At Formnext, 6K chose a challenging Fe-based alloy, with near identical ratios of Cr, Cu, Co, and Ni. This composition family has been studied significantly, but has never been made in spherical powder form nor laser printed.
6K partnered with Castheon, an AM company which uses specialty alloys. “We have 3D printed many exotic alloys for aerospace propulsion parts, which are considered non-printable,” stated Dr Youping Gao, CEO of Castheon. “Yet, this is the first time we have printed a custom HEA alloy that has elements with extreme melting temperatures. No one today but 6K has provided Cr and Cu in the same alloy with almost equal concentrations for additive manufacturing and it’s simply not possible with melt eutectic alloying.”
Through its metals reclamation technology, 6K can specifically target the powder size distribution to the Additive Manufacturing process of need, including L-PBF, EBM, DED, Binder-jetting or MIM, therefore enabling almost 100% UniMelt process yield, as much as three to four times higher than gas atomisation. 6K will be commissioning a new state-of-the-art Additive Manufacturing powder manufacturing plant in Pittsburgh, USA in Q1/2020 and is currently partnering with customers to pre-qualify and sample Onyx In718 in anticipation of commercial availability in Q2/2020. 6K Additive will follow by launching Ti-AlV64 in Q3/2020.