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.
How can automakers, aerospace contractors, and other OEMs get new metal alloys that are stronger, harder, and can survive ever higher temperatures? One way is to redesign their crystalline structures at the nanoscale and microscale.
Although a lot of the excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing surrounds its ability to make end-products and functional prototypes, some often ignored applications are the big improvements that can come by using it for tooling, jigs, and fixtures.
A fun and informative tour you can attend at the upcoming Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis, MD&M Minneapolis, and other events there, is the Materials Innovation Tour on Wednesday afternoon. I'll be leading it.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies.
You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived.
So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.