According to the company, there are currently few options for reclaiming and reusing the materials used to make these implants.
“Currently, a reclaimed implant would be processed in an induction furnace that uses a massive amount of energy with a commensurately large carbon footprint,” said Peter Pecht, CEO of SMR.
However, processing the material using 6K’s UniMelt microwave plasma technology could result in metal powder to be used to create new parts, including implant, using additive manufacturing (AM).
The agreement between the two organizations will utilize used and out-of-spec implants, swarf and used metal AM powder supplied by SMR to be reprocessed initially in the US, later moving to Europe.
“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,” said Frank Roberts, president of 6K Additive.
The collaboration will initially focus on titanium (Ti64) and will expand to incorporate cobalt chrome, the companies say.