- 6K Additive and Surgical Metal Recycling (SMR) have partnered to create a circular and sustainable supply chain for recycled medical implants.
- The collaboration aims to transform the metals supply chain in Australia and revolutionize the treatment of surgical implants at the end of their useful life.
- 6K’s UniMelt process enables the profitable re-use of end-of-life and out-of-spec parts with a significantly reduced environmental footprint.
6K Additive and SMR Creating Circular Sustainable Supply Chain for Medical Implants
6K Additive and Surgical Metal Recycling (SMR) have partnered to establish a circular and sustainable supply chain for medical implants. The collaboration aims to revolutionize the treatment of surgical implants at the end of their useful life and transform the metals supply chain in Australia.
6K’s UniMelt process plays a crucial role in this endeavor by enabling the profitable re-use of end-of-life and out-of-spec parts while significantly reducing the environmental footprint. It provides a sustainable solution to produce premium metal powders from medical sources and enhance value retention
Addressing Accumulation of Valuable Metals
The increased use of metal implants in joint replacement surgeries and surgical interventions has led to a substantial accumulation of valuable metals and alloys within the population. However, the current options for reclaiming and reusing these materials are limited.
Sustainable Recycled Medical Implants with UniMelt Platform
Traditional methods of reclaiming recycled medical implants in induction furnaces consume excessive energy and have a large carbon footprint. By leveraging 6K’s UniMelt platform, materials can be processed sustainably, resulting in the production of premium metal powders from medical sources and significantly reducing environmental impact.
The partnership between 6K Additive and SMR involves reprocessing used implants, swarf, and metal additive manufacturing powder through the UniMelt platform. Initially, reprocessing will take place in the US, with plans to expand to Europe. The resulting premium powders will be used for additive manufacturing, with the ultimate goal of creating new certified implants through a sustainable and circular supply chain, utilizing existing parts.
“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.”
Focus on Titanium and Future Expansion
The collaboration will initially focus on titanium (Ti64) and intends to incorporate cobalt chrome in the future. The UniMelt process offers a highly controlled environment to remove oxygen from titanium powder, resulting in improved material grade. It also achieves a yield of over 90% for the desired particle size distribution, reducing costs and environmental impact compared to other processes.
Significant Energy and Carbon Emission Reductions
A life cycle assessment conducted by Foresight Management on 6K Additive’s titanium and nickel powders revealed remarkable reductions in energy consumption and carbon emissions. The UniMelt process delivered a minimum of 74% energy reduction and 78% carbon emission reduction for Ti64 compared to traditional processes.
The partnership between 6K Additive and SMR aims to significantly reduce the environmental impacts of metal extraction and processing for virgin materials by recycling, reusing, and rejuvenating existing metals. This sustainable approach aligns with their mission of leading the powder manufacturing market with a focus on sustainability.