NORTH ANDOVER – Thursday, April 7, 2022 – Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a new $1.5 million grant from the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) to 6K, which will boost the company’s cutting-edge production of advanced materials that are used in additive manufacturing and in the production of batteries for electric vehicles, grid storage, and consumer electronics. 6K’s cutting-edge UniMelt® microwave technology is “quintessentially Massachusetts” in terms of its innovative, sustainable, and environmentally-friendly characteristics, which recycles scrap materials or used metal powder or parts that would otherwise have gone to landfill, and instead transforms it into premium metal powder used in 3D printing for the production parts used in aerospace, defense, medical, and automotive applications. 6K has also announced a new 33,000-square-foot battery center of excellence pre-production facility in North Andover, which will be one of the largest battery material production facilities in the United States.
The grant was announced by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy during an event at 6K’s new battery material production facility, which was followed by a tour of 6K’s proprietary UniMelt® advanced production plasma systems. The state grant will fund the purchase of one new UniMelt system, a technology that is designed by 6K and will be manufactured by Helfrich Brothers Boiler Works in Lawrence with components from AVS, Inc. in Ayer, highlighting the strong in-state supply chain.
During his testimony to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy in January 2022, Governor Charlie Baker highlighted 6K as a standout company, noting their “incredible, innovative work” in the battery supply chain.
“M2I2 allows us to target support toward companies that, like 6K, are committed to growing their operations here in Massachusetts,” said Governor Baker. “Through this grant we are funding new infrastructure that will lead to job growth and production, but we’re also supporting a game changing, clean technology that promises to revolutionize the supply chain for batteries by keeping more of this production here in the Commonwealth.”
“The Commonwealth supported the growth of 6K through early investments made by MassDevelopment and we’re continuing that support with this new advanced manufacturing grant from the M2I2 program,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “Massachusetts plays a critical role in technologies that are advancing our clean energy future, including electric cars. As students across Massachusetts look forward to their careers in STEM fields, it’s my hope that they’ll discover the ground-breaking innovations being produced by companies like 6K.”
The new UniMelt system will be used to produce metal powders used in additive manufacturing and battery material production, creating new opportunities to develop our future workforce in collaboration with local vocational schools, community colleges and universities. The UniMelt enables the development of advanced materials across a wide spectrum of markets including additive manufacturing, lithium-ion batteries, and energy storage. The new unit will join others in the company’s new facility, expanding production capability.
“By making targeted investments through the M2I2, we can continue expanding the Commonwealth’s base of manufacturing while also supporting new innovations in clean energy technology that will have important applications in the near future,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “The manufacturing sector continues to play an important role in our economy and I want to congratulate 6K for leveraging the system of supports we have in place to help companies stay, grow, and thrive here in Massachusetts.”
The investment will position Massachusetts as a leader in the clean production of these materials, installing a cost-competitive solution to traditional material manufacturing methods which take longer, and tend to produce more pollutants and waste (including water). By contrast, the UniMelt system produces material in two to three seconds with no hazardous waste, a 6X reduction in water usage, and a 3X reduction in both power use and CO2 emissions.
“6K is honored to be the recipient of the M2I2 grant. Our UniMelt production platform transforms the way performance materials are produced and we can use this system for training a local workforce for the future of manufacturing,” said 6K’s Vice President of Government Affairs Mary Cronin. “We hope to see additional programs like the M2I2 passed by the Legislature that can offer foundational support for MA-based companies like 6K to stay in Massachusetts, to innovate, deploy, and position Massachusetts as a leader and a hub in the clean energy revolution.”
The M2I2 program, co-managed by the Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) at the MassTech Collaborative and the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, aims to foster and grow sectors such as this to spur innovation and job growth within the state through cross-collaboration among companies, universities, national labs, government, incubators, accelerators, and other academic and training institutions. To date, the program has invested over $80 million in direct grants to growing companies, universities, and research labs across the state.
“The use of emerging technologies such as additive manufacturing helps create an ecosystem where both innovation and manufacturing can thrive,” said Ben Linville-Engler, Chief Investment Strategist at the MassTech Collaborative. “Through their innovative processes and technologies, 6K will help unlock the potential of the high-value metals and materials left unused in discarded stockpiles. Their products will have a positive impact on industries ranging from 3D metal printing, semiconductors, battery storage and electrification, lasers, and beyond, areas which play to the Commonwealth’s strengths.”
The Baker-Polito Administration has committed more than $100 million in funding to the M2I2 effort, which allows the Commonwealth to co-invest in projects supported by the national Manufacturing USA initiative, helping promote innovation and job growth across the state. The 6K project is also receiving support from the national manufacturing institute America Makes, a public-private partnership focused on additive manufacturing technology and education.
"America Makes is a proud partner in M2I2. Our institute is dedicated to the advancement and maturation of Additive Manufacturing along with our members across the nation including those in Massachusetts,” said Josh Cramer, Education and Workforce Development Director at the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, and America Makes. "The M2I2 program is a great example of collaboration through public and private partnership which is core to our mission at America Makes. We are excited to continue our partnership in Massachusetts expanding education and workforce development along with the adoption and the development of Additive Manufacturing technologies."
In addition to the $80 million directly invested in Massachusetts organizations, M2I2 has leveraged over $250 million in funding from outside sources, helping to enable the development of over 100 new products. In addition to infrastructure investments, the program has also created workforce training opportunities for thousands of students and workers statewide.
“6K Inc.’s innovative technology has created sorely needed jobs in in the Merrimack Valley and bolstered efforts to reduce wastewater, greenhouse gas emissions and energy use,” said Senator Diana DiZoglio. “This investment from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative will go a long way to supporting the scale up and success of this cutting-edge technology, positioning Massachusetts to lead in this emerging industry.”
"This M2I2 grant will allow 6K to grow its North Andover home for innovative green technology,” said Representative Christina Minicucci. “Not only is this North Andover-based business contributing to our community's economic development, they are also committed to sourcing materials locally and keeping their supply chain dollars in Massachusetts whenever possible.
“We are excited for the potential that this grant unlocks,” said Representative Tram Nguyen. “6K’s groundbreaking work will not only build the green infrastructure while recycling used products; it will also bring jobs to our district and to environmental justice communities. And it builds an in-state supply chain that will be essential to our future energy independence. This is a win for our district and a win for the entire Commonwealth.”
“We have seen first-hand how successful our advanced manufacturing can be in Massachusetts if we work together to give them the tools and funding to explore uncharted territory in innovation,” said Senator Eric Lesser, Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies & Chair of the Manufacturing Caucus. “This M2I2 grant awarded to 6K will support their advanced materials production and unlock new opportunities for workforce development in partnership with local community colleges, universities, and vocational schools.”
“The innovation that 6K is advancing represents the best in manufacturing and clean energy technology,” said Representative Jeffrey N. Roy, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy and House Chair of the Manufacturing Caucus. “The Legislature continues to provide funding for investments in this sector because it not only helps supply clean energy but provides robust economic development as well. I was impressed with what I saw at 6K and am thrilled that this company has deep and strong roots in the Massachusetts ecosystem.”
About the Mass. Center for Advanced Manufacturing at MassTech
The mission of the Massachusetts Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) is to foster the most complete, collaborative, and agile manufacturing ecosystem, to enable business growth from innovation through production. The CAM is a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech), a public economic development agency tasked with supporting business formation and growth in the Commonwealth’s tech and innovation sectors. CAM provides a path for manufacturing growth through a connected, accessible ecosystem that supports innovation, workforce development and a business friendly environment. CAM managed programs include the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2), the MassBridge manufacturing training program, the Massachusetts Manufacturing Accelerate Program (MMAP), and the mamanufacturing.com portal. Learn more at cam.masstech.org.