Metal 3D printing tech moves ahead.
Not so long ago it was revolutionary. Now 3D printing is going mainstream and you can even 3D print metals into components. On the downside, the fledgling tech is still suffering from teething problems and the results are sometimes found wanting.
The main form of metal 3D printing is called powder bed fusion. It harnesses an energy source like a laser or electron beam to fuse particles of metal powder together bit by bit, layering it to create the desired object. Directed energy deposition (DED) and binder jetting are also popular. DED introduces either a metal powder or wire to the energy source. Binder jetting involves a liquid binder being deposited on a layer of metal powder.
Once the printed item is complete it’s transferred to a furnace for heat treatment and sintering. But some issues remain, and people in the sector are working hard to resolve them. Porosity, residual stress, density, warping, cracking and a poor surface finish all affect quality. You can read the fine detail here on the Engineering.com website.
Cremation metals generating vital cash for charity.
Did you know that metals left over from cremations can raise cash for charity?
Blackpool Council is supporting an initiative to do exactly that, thanks to a charitable scheme that collects metal items like artificial hips and knees post-cremation. These valuable metals used to be buried along with the ashes, but in today’s environmentally responsible world it’s no longer acceptable to waste such a useful resource, and it’s being harvested instead.
Artificial metal hips, knees and dental implants, and the plates and screws that fix them in place, are made from high value metals which easily survive a 1000 degree cremation, including cobalt and titanium. With permission from the families, metal objects are being collected for recycling.
The initiative has earned an impressive £5,000 so far, a cheque for which has been presented on behalf of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management to the Miscarriage Association at Blackpool’s Trinity Hospice. While recycling cremation metals is a sensitive subject, the families involved are pleased that their donation helps people affected by the loss of a baby in pregnancy, making a positive difference in the local community.
Copper is making the rich people in Kazakhstan even wealthier
Fast-rising copper prices over the last few months are having an effect on some of Kazakhstan’s richest people. The metal price hovered around $2/lb for the majority of 2016, then rocketed 25% in November 2016 and stuck there. June 30th saw copper quoted at $2.7/lb by Bloomberg.
The price hike has boosted firms like KAZ Minerals, a London-listed copper producer which reported a 43% hike in its revenues compared to the previous year. The increase comes thanks to the firm’s newest operations at Bozshakol and Aktogay. Late April 2017 saw them announce a dramatic growth in copper production, doubling their share price in just 8 months. This led to Mr Vladimir Kim, KAZ Minerals’ largest shareholder, grabbing back first place in Forbes’ richest people in Kazakhstan list for the first time in three years. He’s now also the biggest shareholder in the RBK bank, a leading Kazak financial institution.
At the same time another Kazak copper producer, Central Asia Metals, increased production by 2% in the first 6 months of this year and is also enjoying lower-than-average operational costs thanks to efficient mining operations and the fall in value of the local currency, the Tenge. Central Asia Metals is home to the seventh richest man in Kazakhstan and a major shareholder, Mr Kenes Rakishev. He currently holds 19% of shares.
While a slump in commodity prices has badly affected the Kazakhstan government, and currency issues have hit ordinary consumers and savers hard, high copper prices have lined the pockets of the country’s high fliers. No wonder financial analysts in Kazakhstan still have their eyes on copper. Demand looks like staying solid for some time to come. Booming Chinese demand, less tax to pay in the USA and better investment in infrastructure all support high copper prices.
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