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.
An in-depth survey of 700 current and future users of 3D printing holds few surprises, but results emphasize some major trends already in progress. Two standouts are the big growth in end-use parts and metal additive manufacturing (AM) most respondents expect.
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