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3d metal printing, pathogen-killing aluminium and more

At Metalex we’re always on the lookout for stories about the metal supply sector.

And this time around, just in time for Christmas, there’s plenty of good news on tap. If you’re searching for reliable, expert aluminium
stockholders, you’ve found us. And we’ll be delighted to help. In the meantime, here’s the latest news from our world.

3D metal printing matures

3d printing might be a relatively quiet revolution, but it’s a revolution all the same. And it impacts the world of metals as well as plastics. Witness a new technique for 3D printing metals, using marine grade stainless steel to deliver exceptional strength and ductility. Materials Today has published the findings of a joint research team from the Universities of Birmingham, Stockholm and Zhejiang, which prove that strong, ductile metals can indeed be harnessed for 3D printing. As you can imagine, it opens up a whole new world of opportunity regarding the manufacturing of heavy duty parts.

3D printing lets manufacturers quickly build complex objects, and metal 3D printing is fast moving towards widespread industrial applications.

Take General Electric, which is already using 3D metal printing to make key parts like fuel nozzles for the LEAP aircraft engine. The new tech means they’ve reduced the previous 900 separate components to just 16, making the nozzles 40% lighter as well as 60% cheaper. Original metal 3D printing processes involved products being slowly layered up using metal powders, which made the objects susceptible to defects and deterioration. Using marine grade stainless steel, the researchers have produced objects with previously inaccessible shapes as well as significantly improved strength and ductility.

It’s all down to a super-fast cooling rate, impossible in bulk metal production processes until 3D printing arrived. And it means researchers have an exciting new tool via which to design alloy Systems with ultra-mechanical properties, vital for the aerospace and
automotive industries. The new method could open up the 3D printing of stainless steel components in those sectors as well as the oil and gas industries, where strong materials have to survive extreme forces in harsh environments.

Hospital acquired infections foiled by etched aluminium

Great news for hospitals plagued with infections… it looks like Hospital acquired infections can be cut back dramatically by using etched
aluminium surfaces in ICUs and operating theatres, on toilets and taps, bedside furniture, handrails and more, all surfaces where the risk of infection is high.

The inspiration came from shark skin and dragonfly wings, both of which are completely free from pathogens. The research team was led by Kaushik Chatterjee of the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru, which used etched aluminium to kill drug-sensitive and drug-resistant bacteria. The material also stopped bacteria from attaching to surfaces and growing.

It’s all down to the minuscule texture created by chemical etching, a surface with both nano and microscale features. It killed 82% of E. coli against a control surface of 10%, 25% of K. pneumoniae compared to a control surface performance of just 1% and 86% of P. aeruginosa against a control of 10%, knocking out all three drug-resistant strains.

Aluminium drinks cans tipped as the ‘most recycled’ Drinks containers

Good old aluminium beverage cans. They’ve just been nominated the world’s most recycled drinks container at the Smithers Pira
Sustainability in Packaging Europe Conference. According to Metal Packaging Europe, 70% of drinks cans sold in Britain are recycled and 75% of all aluminium ever produced is still in use today. Steel-based packaging is also widely recycled, with the metal achieving an average European recycling rate of 78% in 2015 and five countries exceeding 85%.

This is great news since consumers are more concerned than ever about the way waste is handled. The numbers are very encouraging. But the metal packaging sector still has a lot of work to do to achieve their objective of an 80% European average recycling rate by 2020.

Everyone here at Metalex wishes you a great winter break and a hugely successful 2018. As your preferred metal supply experts, we look forward to supplying you with premium metal products and news for years to come.

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