You might want to consider new design strategies for materials that contain large amounts of nickel, such as stainless steel. Prices entered the year at very close to a record high on an inflation-adjusted basis ($22/lb). Average prices for 2006 were 63% higher than 2005. Tags may rise slightly again this year because of some supply disruptions and booming demand in China for stainless. China produced 5 million metric tons of stainless steel last year. Amazingly, about 10 million more metric tons of stainless are under construction. About two-thirds of all nickel output goes into stainless. The addition of nickel to aluminum creates a super alloy that maintains structural integrity during changes in atmospheric pressure. For that reason, they’re widely used in aircraft, another area under pressure because of Chinese expansion.
A self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
Researchers at MIT's d'Arbeloff Laboratory are developing shoulder- and hip-mounted robotic arms to help workers in aircraft manufacturing perform difficult or complex assembly tasks that would normally require two people.
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