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.
Norway-based additive manufacturing company Norsk Titanium is building what it says is the first industrial-scale 3D printing plant in the world for making aerospace-grade metal components. The New York state plant will produce 400 metric tons each year of aerospace-grade, structural titanium parts.
Siemens and Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology have achieved a faster production process based on selective laser melting for speeding up the prototyping of big, complex metal parts in gas turbine engines.
BMW has already incorporated more than 10,000 3D-printed parts in the Rolls-Royce Phantom and intends to expand the use of 3D printing in its cars even more in the future. Meanwhile, Daimler has started using additive manufacturing for producing spare parts in Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
SABIC's lightweighting polycarbonate glazing materials have appeared for the first time in a production car: the rear quarter window of Toyota's special edition 86 GRMN sports car, where they're saving 50% of its weight compared to conventional glass.
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