What do US military planners consider top materials research targets? Well according to the head of the Pentagon’s research arm (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA) low-cost titanium tops the list. Titanium is in increasing demand for light weight aircraft and stealth-seeking submarines, while its costs are rising and significant amounts of supply are controlled by Russia. One troubling indication is the recent huge supply agreement made between Boeing and Russia’s top titanium provider. DARPA has distributed more than $20 million in grants in efforts to develop lower-cost titanium, as well as material that would have improved fabrication capabilities. DuPont is teaming with a company called MER to explore a technology in which titanium dioxide can be converted into titanium power which can be easily shaped through molding or casting processes.
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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