Crude oil for August delivery fell 11 percent, to $128.88 a barrel last week on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the biggest one-week drop in four years. Futures had reached $147.27 a barrel on July 11, the highest since 1983. And the price of oil is going to keep dropping, says a prominent energy analyst. Edward L. Morse of Lehman predicts a plunge to $93 a barrel. Declining demand will contribute to a build-up in inventories. One of the biggest drops will come in China, which had been feeding the fire. Plus there is some new capacity coming on line. The swing in oil prices upward was more exaggerated than normal because of rising speculation on oil and other commodities by investors who no longer could find good bets in real estate, or in the stock market. Some $90 billion of new cash reportedly moved into commodity funds in the past 18 months. A drop in short-term oil price speculation will help move tags down.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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