The Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) recently awarded a $1.5 million grant to North Andover, MA manufacturer 6K. The funds will boost 6K’s cutting-edge production of advanced materials 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 recycles scrap materials or used metal powder or parts that would otherwise have gone to landfill, and transforms it into premium metal powder used in 3D printing for the production of parts used in aerospace, defense, medical, and automotive applications. 6K will build 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 U.S.
“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 spur innovation and job growth within Massachusetts 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 grant was announced during an event at 6K’s new battery material production facility, and followed by a tour of 6K’s proprietary UniMelt® advanced production plasma systems. The 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.
“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 Karyn 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.”
“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.”
During his testimony to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy in January 2022, Governor Charlie Baker highlighted 6K as a standout company, noting its “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 Gov. 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 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.