6K Additive has announced a partnership with France-based Z3DLab for the production of its advanced ZTi alloys range. According to the companies, the partnership will drive new advanced 3D printing 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 its UniMelt technology to produce spherical, dense 3D printing powders. According to 6K, its process delivers up to 100% yield, which makes 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 ductility, wear resistance, and heat oxidation relative to Ti64 according to the company.
The ZTi-Med alloys range includes ZTM14N, a biocompatible titanium ternary alloy designed to maintain a good strength-ductility ratio with ‘exceptional’ elasticity. The elastic modulus of 38 GPa matches the elastic modulus range of human bone (~5-30 GPa), which the company says makes it ideal for medical implants.
Z3DLabs says that 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 said: “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 I the atomisation process during production. We will be burdening the cost unnecessarily for our customers. 6K Additive’s UniMelt delivers the required high yields of highly spheroidised 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.”
François 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.”
According to 6K, a benefit of its UniMelt process is the ability to use crap, revert, or used powder as feedstock, eliminating the need for virgin material extraction while improving the quality of the final powder compared to traditional atomisation methods. The company says that Z3DLab’s high-performance alloys can be reprocessed in the same way, creating a circular economy for high-value, high-performance alloys.
6K achieved the TCT Materials Award at the 2023 TCT Awards for a project including its UniMelt plasma production process and Ni718 high-quality metal AM powder produced from scrap, which was shown to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.