Fraunhofer ILT and 6K Additive to create a comprehensive life cycle assessment for additive manufacturing
6K Additive, a division of 6K, a leader in the sustainable production of engineered materials for additive manufacturing and lithium-ion batteries, and Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT are collaborating to create a complete life cycle assessment (LCA) for additive manufacturing.
The study will use sustainably manufactured Ni718 powder produced by 6K Additive, for an industrial component manufactured on a laser powder bed fusion machine to better understand the carbon footprint from material through additive manufacturing process and post-processing.
There are conflicting views on additive manufacturing regarding its environmental impact compared to traditional manufacturing. The goal for this study is to analyze factual data to help us understand the real environmental impact for printing a metal AM part using LPBF. We also thought it was extremely important to evaluate the entire process, including powder manufacturing, which is why we partnered with 6K Additive, who has a proven method of sustainable powder manufacturing.—Dr Jasmin Saewe, Head of Department Laser Powder Bed Fusion at Fraunhofer ILT
6K’s UniMelt platform offers multifaceted sustainability benefits. 6K Additive previously released two life cycle assessment projects for both titanium and nickel powders. This study was conducted by Foresight Management, an independent company who quantified the environmental impacts associated with the production of printable metal powders and specifically compared atomization technology methods to 6K Additive’s.
It was found that for Ni718 powder, 6K’s UniMelt process at minimum delivered a 91% energy reduction and 92% carbon emission reduction from traditional processes.
6K Additive is the first producer of AM powder made from sustainable sources and offers a full suite of premium powder including nickel, titanium, copper, and refractory metals such as tungsten and rhenium. The proprietary UniMelt system is the world’s only microwave production-scale plasma system, with a highly uniform and precise plasma zone with zero contamination and high throughput production capabilities.