Ocean-floor exploitation, monolith mystery, sheet steel ships and golf clubs
As experts in metal supplies UK we’re always on the look-out for exciting news. Here are four of the best stories form early December 2020, and here’s wishing you luck whatever Tier you fall into.
Exploiting the ocean bed to mine metals
Did you know that most of the resources on the floors of our oceans are considered ‘common heritage’, belonging to every country in the world? It means anyone can have a go at exploiting the sea floor.
The Clipperton Fracture Zone, also known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, is a geological submarine fracture zone deep in the Pacific Ocean, about 4,500 miles long and spanning an extraordinary 4,500,000 sq km. Right now several nations are keen to exploit the zone, which contains extraordinary amounts of essential metals.
Apparently there are 21 billon tonnes of manganese nodules in the zone along with 5.88 billion tonnes of manganese, 273 million tonnes of nickel, 231 million tonnes of copper, 42 million tonnes of cobalt, and 12 million tonnes of molybdenum.
At the moment humans use 21 million tonnes of manganese globally every year. We extract around 31 million tonnes of land-based copper and zinc. These metals are important to us. The biggest question is an environmental one – can we really justify extracting all this from a ‘super-rare’ environment rich in more than 400 different species of sea creatures plus numerous precious hydrothermal vents? Probably not. Instead, we need to change the way we do things. And that’s why no deep-sea mining licenses have been awarded so far.
Mysterious Utah monolith made from 1/8th inch steel or aluminium sheets
As sheet aluminium suppliers we were fascinated by the Utah monolith, which came, became famous, then disappeared. The non-magnetic metal pillar stood for four years before being discovered in a red sandstone canyon in northern San Juan, Utah. It was 3m high and made of ‘stainless steel or aluminium’ sheets riveted together into a triangular prism, unlawfully displayed on public land some time during 2016.
In November this year it was found by biologists on a helicopter survey into the region’s wild bighorn sheep.
Once the word got out, the public arrived to wonder at the mysterious monolith. The mystery captivated the country, then the world, but a few days later the monolith was broken down by four men who claimed it was junk, saying people shouldn’t leave ‘trash’ in the desert.
The San Juan County Sheriff said they “did not have the proper resources to devote much time” to the object’s arrival or its disappearance. Since then three different artists have denied any involvement, and it remains a mystery. Someone, somewhere, is laughing right now at the dramatic international kerfuffle they caused.
Russia’s new plans for sheet steel shipping
As steel suppliers in the UK we’re also interested in what’s going on in Russia. The country is planning to build a massive new metals plant in the Far East at a cost of at least $2.2 billion. The idea is to supply the country’s Zvezda shipbuilding yard with sheet steel, with the ultimate aim of ‘developing the Arctic’. The new facility is set to produce 1.5 million tonnes of steel sheet and steel pipe every year, and the Zvezda shipyard will play an important role in ‘improving’ the Northern Sea Route Arctic transit corridor.
3D printed metal lattices create a unique golf putter
Cobra’s King Supersport-35 putter looks a lot like the rest. It’s an ordinary-looking blade-style golf putter. But a very special metallic lattice structure makes it unique. The clever internal supports were printed using HP Metal Jet 3D printing tech, giving it characteristics that the usual manufacturing process simply couldn’t achieve.
Cobra partnered with the metallurgists at Parmatech, which works closely with HP to improve the 3D printing process. To make the putter, the printing machine’s heads emit very finely-powdered stainless steel in thin layers, slowly building up the club. The power is stuck together with a polymer binding agent and the head then goes through a sintering process to heat it and make a solid metal structure. Finally Cobra themselves mill the outside of the club and attach a 6061 aluminium face to it.
The new process opens up club design. Engineers can create much more complex structures on the inside of golf club heads, even shifting the weight around to make a better performing and better-looking end result.
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