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The latest metal supply and innovation news

There’s plenty going on in our sector right now. Here’s the latest metal suppliers news.

Metal supply – Demand increases thanks to the electric vehicle revolution

The desire for electric vehicles of every kind is growing fast, with a tipping point in sight and the popularity of combustion engine waning in line. It’s revolutionary, and it’s bringing about a new landscape where different metals are in high demand. It’s all down to electric car battery components, made using nickel, cobalt, manganese, lithium and, of course, aluminium.

As a result BASF, which makes electric car battery components, is collaborating with Russian mining outfit Norilsk Nickel in an attempt to secure supplies of responsibly-sourced nickel and cobalt. At the same time they’re busy cutting back on the amount of cobalt required to make cathodes, reducing the current 20% to 10% so far. They aim to ultimately achieve just 5%, the aim being to increase the proportion of cheaper nickel and manganese while maintaining acceptable levels of battery safety.

3D printed aluminium alloys set to make planes fly for longer

You can fit all the low-energy light bulbs you like, go vegan and stop driving altogether. It all helps mitigate CO2 emissions. But just one short haul flight and your personal CO2 emissions rocket through the roof. With cheap flights still extremely popular and the public welded to travel and foreign holidays, it’s a climate change conundrum. Luckily aluminium is coming to the rescue.

A new 3D printing process sits at the heart of the innovation, paving the way for lighter aircraft that fly further using the same amount of fuel. Today’s aluminium alloys are remarkably strong and unusually light, but they weaken and break when heated, welded or 3D printed. To resolve the issue parts are riveted, which adds extra weight. But when the metal particles used to print in 3D are coated with nano-particles of zirconium, a crystalline structure is created which the molten alloy follows as it cools down. The part’s strength is retained, meaning rivets could become a thing of the past.

Canada’s carbon steel anti-dumping tariffs dropped in Taiwan

As steel suppliers in the UK, it’s interesting to see Canada announcing the end of its controversial anti-dumping tariffs on two Taiwan steel companies, Chung Hung Steel Corporation and the Shin Yang Steel Corporation. They have also cut duties on the country’s steel exporters from over 54% to less than 30%. It’s all thanks to legal findings by the World Trade Organization, who took up the case back in 2015 after Canada discovered Taiwanese manufacturers of welded carbon steel piping were selling their products at unfairly low prices, thus damaging the Canadian steel industry.

Demand grows for seamless piping

The oil, gas and construction industries are driving an increased demand for seamless pipes. So far a blend of strict environmental regulations and unpredictable raw materials costs have suppressed the market. But it looks like developing countries are filling the gap. Asia Pacific, for example, is predicted to become a top player thanks to its fast-developing industrialisation and infrastructure.

Seamless pipes are made from a hot-rolled round bar billet of carbon steel or a steel alloy, preferred when the issues at hand are power, corrosion, thermal and chemical resistance and a long life. Hot finished seamless pipes are cost-effective thanks to their good machinability, ideal for jobs where you need high strength and close tolerance. Cold drawn seamless piping is made by heating a solid billet then piercing it to make a hollow, delivering close dimensional tolerance and a good surface finish.

Interior design trends – Brass and copper

What’s the metal of the moment? If you’re in interior design you will already know that brass and copper are about to enjoy a strong come-back after decades of neglect from the interior fashion world. Pick up any home design magazine or look online and you’ll discover a plethora of brass accessories in a multitude of finishes, everything from kitchen hardware to sculptures, accessories and even appliances.

As brass sheet suppliers and respected metal stockists we’re looking forward to a resurgence of brass sheet sales as designers, makers, craftspeople and artists return to a beautiful, durable alloy that can be transformed into a multitude of objects, both decorative and practical.

Come back next month for more news and views from our world. In the meantime, walk this way for your metal supply needs.

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