Relativity to use 6K’s scrap-to-powder recycling for sustainable rocket production

June 30, 2020

Relativity Space, Los Angeles, California, USA, and 6K, North Andover, Massachusetts, USA, have entered into a partnership which aims to develop true sustainability in Additive Manufacturing production. The aim of the partnership is to create a closed-loop supply chain where certified scrap materials produced at Relativity are turned back into powder by 6K, which can then be re-additively manufactured by Relativity. 

At Formnext 2019, 6K launched what it believes to be the world’s first premium metal powders for Additive Manufacturing derived from sustainable sources. 6K’s UniMelt microwave plasma process has the 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 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. 

6K and Relativity Space have signed an agreement detailing a three-phase approach from a proof of concept all the way through a Relativity additively manufactured part. The project is intended to prove out the process of taking scrap material produced at Relativity, using 6K’s UniMelt proprietary process to deliver premium certified powder, and using it to produce an additively manufactured part.

According to the companies, 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 rocket launch and space travel. The companies state that they 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 sixty days,” explained Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity. “This partnering with 6K will add another important element to our very unique approach: the ability to reuse materials.”

Ellis added, “We are looking forward to working with 6K to add this sustainability to our supply chain while ensuring closed-loop traceability all the way through.”  

Dr Aaron Bent, CEO of 6K, commented, “Relativity is pushing the boundaries of Additive Manufacturing by 3D printing a complete rocket, and we see this partnership as a natural extension of their forward-thinking practice.”

“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. We are proud to be partnering with Relativity to explore ways to increase sustainability, recycling and environmentally responsible manufacturing processes, which the entire AM industry is uniquely poised to be able to integrate into standard practices,” he concluded.

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