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6K Additive and Surgical Metal Recycling to Create a Circular Sustainable Supply Chain for Medical Implants

6K Additive announced that it has entered into an agreement with Australian company Surgical Metal Recycling (SMR). The companies will work together to develop opportunities for a circular, sustainable supply chain for medical implants.

The increasing use of metal implants in surgical procedures is creating a significant supply of valuable metals and alloys.

Peter Pecht, CEO of SMR explains: “Currently, a reclaimed implant would be processed in an induction furnace that uses a massive amount of energy with a commensurately large carbon footprint. By processing materials with 6K’s UniMelt platform, we will be able to produce premium metal powders sustainably from medical sources, greatly improving the retention of value.”

Under the agreement, used implants, chips and used metal powders from SMR will be reprocessed by 6K Additive’s UniMelt microwave plasma platform. The resulting powders can then be used to manufacture new parts through additive manufacturing. The goal of the partnership is to create a sustainable and circular supply chain for certified implants.

“Our mission of leading the powder manufacturing market with a sustainable process aligns perfectly with the partnership with SMR. Being able to source feedstock and recycle medical implants is the first innovative step toward our mission,” said Frank Roberts, President of 6K Additive. “There is a growing population that require medical titanium implants for knees, spine, and hips, this agreement creates a path to recycle these parts and enable new implant production with sustainably sourced feedstock.”

The collaboration will initially focus on titanium (Ti64) and later on cobalt chromium. UniMelt’s process can remove oxygen from titanium powder and improve material quality. 6K’s process enables a yield of more than 90% of the desired particle size distribution, reducing costs and environmental impact.

6K Additive commissioned Foresight Management to conduct a life cycle assessment of its titanium and nickel powders. The results show that 6K’s UniMelt process for Ti64 produces at least 74% less energy and 78% fewer carbon emissions compared to conventional processes.

Pecht continued: “By recycling, re-using and rejuvenating the metals we already have in the country, we can massively reduce the environmental impacts of metal extraction and processing for virgin material thanks to 6K’s UniMelt platform.”

Find out more about 6K Additive at 6kinc.com.

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