The Baker-Polito Administration in Massachusetts has announced a new $1.5 million grant from the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) to 6K, which will boost the company’s cutting-edge production of advanced materials that are used in additive manufacturing and in the production of batteries for electric vehicles, grid storage, and consumer electronics.
6K’s cutting-edge UniMelt® microwave technology is “quintessentially Massachusetts” in terms of its innovative, sustainable, and environmentally-friendly characteristics, which recycles scrap materials or used metal powder or parts that would otherwise have gone to landfill, and instead transforms it into premium metal powder used in 3D printing for the production parts used in aerospace, defense, medical, and automotive applications. 6K has also announced a new 33,000-square-foot battery center of excellence pre-production facility in North Andover, which will be one of the largest battery material production facilities in the United States.
The grant was announced by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy during an event at 6K’s new battery material production facility, which was followed by a tour of 6K’s proprietary UniMelt® advanced production plasma systems. The state grant will fund the purchase of one new UniMelt system, a technology that is designed by 6K and will be manufactured by Helfrich Brothers Boiler Works in Lawrence with components from AVS, Inc. in Ayer, highlighting the strong in-state supply chain.
The investment will position Massachusetts as a leader in the clean production of these materials, installing a cost-competitive solution to traditional material manufacturing methods which take longer, and tend to produce more pollutants and waste (including water). By contrast, the UniMelt system produces material in two to three seconds with no hazardous waste, a 6X reduction in water usage, and a 3X reduction in both power use and CO2 emissions.
“6K is honored to be the recipient of the M2I2 grant. Our UniMelt production platform transforms the way performance materials are produced and we can use this system for training a local workforce for the future of manufacturing,” said 6K’s Vice President of Government Affairs Mary Cronin. “We hope to see additional programs like the M2I2 passed by the Legislature that can offer foundational support for MA-based companies like 6K to stay in Massachusetts, to innovate, deploy, and position Massachusetts as a leader and a hub in the clean energy revolution.”
The M2I2 program, co-managed by the Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) at the MassTech Collaborative and the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, aims to foster and grow sectors such as this to spur innovation and job growth within the state through cross-collaboration among companies, universities, national labs, government, incubators, accelerators, and other academic and training institutions. To date, the program has invested over $80 million in direct grants to growing companies, universities, and research labs across the state.
“The use of emerging technologies such as additive manufacturing helps create an ecosystem where both innovation and manufacturing can thrive,” said Ben Linville-Engler, Chief Investment Strategist at the MassTech Collaborative. “Through their innovative processes and technologies, 6K will help unlock the potential of the high-value metals and materials left unused in discarded stockpiles. Their products will have a positive impact on industries ranging from 3D metal printing, semiconductors, battery storage and electrification, lasers, and beyond, areas which play to the Commonwealth’s strengths.”
The Baker-Polito Administration has committed more than $100 million in funding to the M2I2 effort, which allows the Commonwealth to co-invest in projects supported by the national Manufacturing USA initiative, helping promote innovation and job growth across the state. The 6K project is also receiving support from the national manufacturing institute America Makes, a public-private partnership focused on additive manufacturing technology and education.