6K raises $51 million to ramp up battery material development and triple production of metal AM powders

6K, a developer of specialist 3D printing materials, has raised $51 million in a Series C financing round.

The financing round was led by Volta Energy Technologies, and saw input from new investors Catalus Capital and S Cap/Prithvi Ventures, alongside participation from existing supporters Anzu Partners, Launch Capital, Material Impact, and RKS Ventures.

The funds will be used to complete 6K’s Battery Development Center of Excellence, double its 6K Energy team, and triple its production capacity for 3D printing metal powders, among other things. 

“This round of capital is a validation of 6K’s model to replace wasteful legacy production technologies with the UniMelt platform, enter scaled production, meet customer needs, move toward profitability, and transform industries,” said Aaron Bent, CEO of 6K.

6K's Battery Center of Excellence in North Andover, MA. Photo via 6K.
6K’s Battery Center of Excellence in North Andover, MA. Photo via 6K.

6K’s UnitMelt platform

6K’s patented UniMelt system is based on the firm’s microwave plasma process, which converts recycled feedstock such as millings and turnings into 3D printable metal powders. The process promises an advanced level of sustainability over the likes of gas and plasma atomization in terms of efficiency and cost.

Capable of producing advanced performance materials in as little as two seconds, the UniMelt system has the potential to displace costly and wasteful legacy manufacturing processes with a lower-cost, smaller footprint production technology.

The UniMelt platform is now being applied to battery materials, with 6K estimating that water usage could be cut by 90 percent is a conventional battery cathode manufacturing facility was to be replaced with the UniMelt process, while energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions could be slashed by more than two thirds. 

6K announced the establishment of its 33,000 square foot Center of Excellence in April this year, which will focus on the development of new sustainable battery materials for energy storage devices. The center will be equipped with up to 10 of the firm’s UniMelt systems with the aim of eventually alleviating the US’ supply chain risks with local, clean energy-based battery material production. 

The UniMelt production process can produce a variety of materials suitable for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, semiconductors, 3D printing powders, advanced ceramics, and electronic materials.

6K's patented UniMelt microwave plasma platform. Image via 6K.
6K’s patented UniMelt microwave plasma platform. Image via 6K.

Improving sustainability through materials development

Ultimately, 6K’s goal is to aid the global decarbonization effort for the production of performance materials, and the latest capital injection will enable the firm to accelerate its efforts. 

The $51 million funding will be used to complete 6K’s Center of Excellence for battery development and double the size of its 6K Energy team. The funds will also see 6K triple the production capacity of metal powders for 3D printing within its 6K Additive division, which recently announced the commercial launch of a new set of refractory metal powders for additive manufacturing. 

The capital injection will be further used to increase 6K Additive’s portfolio of 3D printable powder products and to expand its commercial sales activities globally. 

“We are joined by world-class investors who are aligned with our vision to transform the way performance materials are produced,” said Bent. “And in doing so, we are teaming to solve critical needs of the US and the planet, addressing climate change, supply chain security, and reducing the demand on our fragile and limited resources.”

The proceeds of the Series C financing round will be used not only to expand the company’s product development activities across its Additive and Energy divisions, but also within its 6K Future Materials segment. Through this division, the firm will invest in the identification and development of both performance and electronic materials via its UniMelt system, to deliver applications ranging from semiconductors to electronic packaging and bio-ceramics.

“Our investment strategy focuses on technologies that bring a positive impact to the environment and contribute to the rapid adoption of electric vehicles and renewable energy on the grid,” said Zander Arkin, Chief Investment Officer of Volta Energy Technologies and 6K Board Director. 

He continued: “Not only does 6K and its UniMelt platform align perfectly to our investment strategy, but the company is well-poised to impact advanced material manufacturing for electric vehicle batteries with a solution that changes the dynamic of sustainability in the supply chain for battery materials.”

A peek inside the UniMelt system. Photo via 6K.
A peek inside the UniMelt system. Photo via 6K.

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Featured image shows 6K’s Battery Center of Excellence in North Andover, MA. Photo via 6K.