6K: World’s first provider of Sustainable Powders
6K utilises advanced microwave plasma technology alongside sustainable processes to transform ideation to development at high speeds. 6K custom-make high end materials with a key focus on sustainability regardless of what industry they’re working for. 6K has an innovation lab based in Massachusetts and a production facility in Pennsylvania, with expert teams in material, process and production areas to deliver materials of the future.
The world’s most advanced production plasma system in the world. uses high-frequency microwave plasma to produce a material in 6K’s system at 1/100,000th of the speed compared to traditional chemical production technologies today.
Traditional chemical and solid-state production processes for manufacturing materials are multi-step, batch-to-batch, with contaminants and yield loss at each stage. The process often takes hours or days, whereas 6K’s UniMelt technology is a continuous process, a single step and takes less than 2 seconds.
Using high-functioning plasma technology, 6K is able to produce advanced materials at high volumes by having the ability to control all aspects of the plasma process flow. The technology is so accurate it can assure that each particle sees the same thermal kinetics and the exact same process history. UniMelt allows for large scale production, scalable to 100+ tons per year and achieving 99% efficiency.
Additive manufacturing with metals has made its way into production. This new additive manufacturing process can assist many industries such as aerospace, medical, oil and gas, automotive to produce products from a range of alloys. 6K, with the implementation of UniMelt technology can mass-produce tailor-made powders for High Entropy Alloys (HEAs) that can be used in AM.
New business models can be developed by the use of rejuvenating used powders. Control and optimise your company supply chain by converting ‘waste’ from other manufacturing processes into powder for use in AM.
Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers
With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.
While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.
“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.
“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”
Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.
“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.
Technology and People
While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.
“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.
Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.