Like all good science and technology, the latest advancement in metal technology will never be the final word. Each new discovery opens up countless more avenues, and as we accumulate more problems that only metal can solve, the finest minds in physics and chemistry - particularly in the field of metallurgy - will strive for that next big revolution. To get you ahead of the curve and at the forefront of the most cutting edge developments, here's 5 of the most recent advancements in metal technologies, including the possibilities of each...
Announced on BBC News just yesterday, physicists from the University of Rochester in New York have created a special metal surface that repels water; to the point where it visibly rebounds in another direction. As detailed in their findings for the Journal of Applied Physics, this "superhydrophobic" surface was created using special femtosecond laser pulses, which don't just coat the metal (which ranged from platimum, titanium and brass), but actually changes the shape of its surface. More than just a neat visual demo, this metal technology could help pave the way for new devices - everything from solar panels to toilets - that won't rust or freeze over.
The auto industry is often analogised to an arms race in the way different companies compete fiercely to drive both production costs down and fuel-efficiency up. Alcoa Inc., the world's biggest aluminium producer by volume, may have the next big secret weapon with its new method of developing aluminium sheets. The new method (expected to be on the market around 2018), puts cast molten metal straight onto a conveyor belt where it is flattened into coils, thus removing the in-between stage of casting it into slabs before rolling it. This aluminium is 30% stronger and 40% for formable, and whilst it will mean more expensive cars, it will save consumers money in the long run on petrol mileage.
Bestech, an engineering and automotive tool company, recently announced their Micro-Epsilon optoCONTROL 2600 series of micrometers; designed to measure the roundness and diameter or stainless steel to a new level of accuracy. Two focal points connected via a laser line help determine the roundness and diameter of the metal reliably to an accuracy of ±2 µm. Lacking mechanical components and with a long service life, this is sure to be a valuable tool in producing steel to a uniform and consistent standard.
One of the areas of technology where lighter, stronger composite metals are needed most is aerospace vehicles, and NASA have a new friend to help them blast off like never before. Their new robot, ISAAC, features a versatile, spinning head and robust, acrobatic arm, and much like the similar robot seen in Iron Man, he can build his own structures far more quickly than any hand (human or otherwise) has done yet. One of only three such robots in the world, ISAAC gives researchers more flexibility in creating new metal parts or structures at extraordinarily small scales.
Often called a 'wonder-material', graphene is a remarkable single-atom material that, when attached to metal, can be stronger than steel. Like something out of Sci-fi, a recent test published in the journal Science shows how the material repelled miniature ballistic bullets, dissipating its energy by stretching into a cone shape and then cracking in various directions. The super strong composite of graphene-metal can make copper 500 times stronger, paving a new way for lighter and more fuel-efficient auto mobiles and aircraft.
Over the past few weeks the UK’s aluminium scrap market has tightened significantly, seeing prices increasing as much as 15% as buyers seek out raw material. Such price increases have been attributed to cold weather and Christmas shutdowns, which have
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