Rising demand and a nickel miners’ strike are combining to boost costs for stainless steel for design engineers. There is no indication, however, that supply conditions will deteriorate anytime soon to the level seen in 2007 when design engineers were forced to seek substitutes.
Nickel prices were up 46 percent in April, and have risen a bit since. A strike at Vale’s Sudbury operations in Ontario has cut operations to 50 percent of capacity. The strike only reduces global capacity by 5 percent, but rising demand makes it a factor.
Recovery in the stainless steel market began in the second half of 2009. The International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) in Brussels is predicting an 11 to 12 percent increase in stainless steel production this year.
At the JEC Europe 2015 composites show in Paris last month, makers of composite materials, software, and process equipment showed off their latest innovations. This year's show saw some announcements related to automotive applications, but many of the improvements came in the world of aerospace.
The DuPont-sponsored Plastics Industry Trends survey shows engineers want improved performance in a broad range of plastics and better recycling technology. These concerns top even processing enhancements that improve productivity.
Plastics leader SABIC recently announced a global initiative to help its customers take advantage of additive manufacturing (AM) and also advance 3D printing (3DP) technologies in several application areas. The company's plans go way beyond materials, and also include design, processing, and part performance.
A theme that was reflected in several ways at NPE 2015 was the use of 3D printing to assist in, or improve on, injection molding, as well as improvements in 3D printing materials and processes that are making better functional prototypes and end-use parts.
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