6K Additive, a division of 6K Inc. and leader in sustainable material production for additive manufacturing, has announced a partnership with France-based Z3DLab for the production of its advanced ZTi alloys range. The partnership will drive new advanced additive manufacturing materials for applications in the medical implant market with additional material developments for the aerospace industry in the future.
6K Additive will process Z3DLab’s proprietary ZTi alloys through their revolutionary UniMelt® technology to produce spherical, dense powders to be used for additive manufacturing. 6K Additive’s innovative process delivers up to 100% yield making the development of new materials more commercially possible.
Z3DLab’s ZTi Powders® include materials for powder bed fusion (PBF) and directed energy deposition (DED) systems with formulations that improve on the ductility, wear resistance and heat oxidation relative to Ti64. The ZTi-Med® alloys range includes ZTM14N, a biocompatible titanium ternary alloy designed to maintain a good strength-ductility ratio with exceptional elasticity of ZTM14N, a unique innovation within AM materials. The very low elastic modulus of 38 GPa matches the elastic modulus range of human bone (~5-30 GPa) making this powder an ideal material for medical implants. The medical implants manufactured with ZTM14N have an improved resistance to inflammatory species by almost 10 times vs other titanium alloys with a Bone Interface Contact BIC value of 95%.
Dr. Madjid Djemai, President of Z3DLab explained: “Our ZTM14N material is unique for the medical implant industry and has tremendous growth opportunity in the space. However, we cannot afford to suffer the yield loss that is typical in the atomization process during production. We will be burdening the cost unnecessarily for our customers. 6K Additive’s UniMelt delivers the required high yields of highly spheroidized powder that enables us to cost-effectively deliver our material to the market. This partnership benefits not only 6K Additive and Z3DLab but also the customers we serve. I am looking forward to our next project in the aerospace sector.”
Francois Bonjour, European Sales Director for 6K Additive added: “As a company dedicated to sustainability, we believe that the future of AM lies in high-performance alloys that can make lighter, stronger components with longer lifespans. Our UniMelt production scale powder manufacturing platform can process a near-infinite range of alloys thanks to its microwave plasma energy source and unparalleled controllability. It only makes sense for Z3DLab and 6K Additive to partner to bring such an innovative material to the market with the quality and cost model to make it successful commercially.”
A key benefit of 6K’s UniMelt process is the ability to use scrap, revert or used powder as feedstock, eliminating the need for virgin material extraction while simultaneously improving the quality of the final powder compared to traditional atomization methods. Z3DLab’s high-performance alloys can be reprocessed in the same way creating a circular economy for high-value, high-performance alloys.