Brace for higher prices for industrial materials in coming months. Rising prices are triggering inventory building, creating the strongest demand for steel, nonferrous metals, and plastics in more than two years. Prices for flat-rolled carbon steel, the bellwether grade, have jumped six times since November, for total actual increases in the 20-to-30 percent range. Cash prices on the London Metal Exchange for nickel, a key stainless steel ingredient, have risen 15 percent since early January. Whirlpool announced this week that it will raise prices because of rising steel, plastics and paint costs. Value engineering efforts are sure to intensify as a way to fight higher materials’ costs.
How 3D printing fits into the digital thread, and the relationship between its uses for prototyping and for manufacturing, was the subject of a talk by Proto Labs' Rich Baker at last week's Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis.
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.
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