Articles in Category: Metal Fabricated Parts

This week our metals faced off against a resurgent US dollar and, once again, lost ground.

Free Download: Latest Metal Price Trends in the May MMI Report

It’s enough to make a metals trader or buyer need a stiff cocktail. How about a nice Moscow Mule in a copper mug? Two ounces of vodka, four ounces of ginger beer and one ounce of lime juice just isn’t the same in glassware. How can your fizzy ginger beer be served in plain, old glassware? Well, badly.

Moscow Mule in a Copper Mug. This is a Vodka drink served with mint, and a garnished with a wedge of lime, The image is a cut out, isolated on a white background, and includes a clipping path.

Moscow Mule in a copper mug, the best medicine for low copper prices.

When vodka comes into contact with the walls of a copper mug, oxidation begins which boosts the aroma, and in turn s taste of vodka. Cold copper may increase the amount of bubbles in the ginger beer, offering maximum fizz to the cocktail. Even the taste of the lime juice is enhanced by cold copper, and it reduces the acidity of the drink to complement the ginger beer.

Served Better in Metal

The original Moscow Mules demanded strict eight-ounce copper mugs, even. Sadly, the mixology craze has not yet pushed enough copper mugs onto shelves to effect the Copper MMI. If prices stay low, perhaps more and more mules will be sold and more bars will invest in copperware causing a Friedmanian run on copper. Pass me another full mug, please.

Our Russian friend is not the only cocktail to be enhanced by delivery in a metallic vessel.

Silver and Mint Juleps

Mint Juleps are said to be better served in silver cups, again to enhance the taste of the mint and the bourbon, although this precious metal investment is a bit more pricy than the copper mugs of the pride of Moscow.

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Mint Juleps getting an extra kick from silver cups.

With summer upon us, it’s a good time to break out the metal drinking vessels, anyway, and get the best outdoor experience from your oxidizing and cold, metal vessels. That and it’s barbecue season. Even foodsafe stainless steel has gotten into the act. Hard to believe that there was a time when beers weren’t packaged in aluminum cans, isn’t it?

Make sure to enjoy your metal-cupped cocktails safely this summer. No one wants their next drink to come from a tin cup.

New futures contracts for rebar and scrap cleared a hurdle recently and a major automaker said thanks, but no thanks, to aluminum bodies.

LME Closes in on Market Makers

The London Metal Exchange (LME) is close to sealing deals with market makers to guarantee liquidity for its new steel rebar and scrap futures, a move that industry experts say is a step in the right direction.

Why Manufacturers Need to Ditch Purchase Price Variance

But for real longevity, the contracts will need crucial support from major banks and participation of major steelmakers and institutional investors.

A senior level source with knowledge of the process told Reuters progress had been made in discussions with professional market makers as well as physical traders. The contracts are scheduled for launch in October.

“Having market makers would make a huge difference. In the current steel contracts there are no market makers,” Antonio Novi, a director at Levmet, a metals trader that also provides hedging services to industrial companies, told Reuters.

“If it’s true that there’s market makers, we’ll be using it, but until I see it I’ll doubt it very much.”

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When pharmaceutical manufacturer Biogen Idec planned a new headquarters building in Boston’s growing Kendall Square tech center, they knew the construction and program needs of the 325,000-square foot, five-story project would be a challenge for the architects, engineers and general contractor selected.

Why Manufacturers Need to Ditch Purchase Price Variance

Cambridge, the suburban Boston municipality Kendall Square is located in, had a zoning requirement that all projects stay under 75 feet. That meant architect Spagnolo, Gisness and Associates had to cut its original plan for a six-story building down to five stories.

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Biogen Global Headquarters, 225 Binney St., Cambridge. Mass. Photo: Peter Vanderwarker

Biogen had its own needs, too. The company wanted to break down barriers between its management and employees and encourage collaboration among its scientists and researchers through the architecture of the building.

Open Office Plan

The new global headquarters has no private offices, just individually designed workstations called “I spaces” and common “huddle rooms” for private phone calls or spontaneous meetings. The company scrapped telephone landlines for employees, who are issued laptops and headsets.

Panels in the ceilings and floors can be brought down to add soft walls and subdivide rooms for smaller group collaboration.

“The idea was to bring everyone together, no separate offices for executives or private areas for senior management, everyone has the same office in the open floor plan,” said Malisa Heiman, senior associate in the real estate and site planning for Biogen.

Biogensavings

Schedule and project savings on the Biogen project.

Construction Manager Consigli Construction co-located with SGA and several of the project’s subcontractors during the design stage of the project. All mechanical, electrical and plumbing subcontractors were on board during design meetings. Read more

Autodesk recently released its 2016 software portfolio of design, engineering, and construction products.

Why Manufacturers Need to Ditch Purchase Price Variance

The 2016 suites for buildings and civil infrastructure projects are the Autodesk Building Design Suite, Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite and Autodesk Plant Design Suite.

ReCap in Design

The biggest change is that each design suite now includes Autodesk ReCap, a laser scanning and large image processing program that allows project teams to capture existing conditions and directly import them into a 3D model.

The Revit Building Information Modeling platform also has new rendering engines. The “Mental Ray” rendering engine that has been used since Revit 2008 has been replaced by Autodesk Raytracer and Rapid RT in the 2016 version. This can mean, in some cases, a leap from 2 hours for a detailed rendering to 3 minutes.

All of the designs suites are used by architecture, engineering and construction professionals to deliver better projects.

409 is often considered “the barely stainless steel,” or affectionately the most humble of the stainless steels. Stainless steel must have a minimum of 10.5% chromium to be stainless steel. 409 Contains a minimum of 10.5% chromium, thus the moniker barely stainless steel.

Pool 4 Tool’s Automotive SRM Summit

In addition to minimal chromium content, 409 stainless has three additional properties that make it an attractive product for substitution: it is the lowest cost stainless, it has good oxidation resistance and excellent formability.

Middleweight Corrosion Fighter

According to AK Steel, 409 gets specified where oxidation and corrosion requirements go beyond carbon steel and some coated steels. North American Stainless suggests, “it is not as resistant to corrosion or high-temperature oxidation as the higher-alloyed stainless steels (430 or 304), but it is still far superior to mild steel and low alloy corrosion resisting steels and most coated mild steels.”

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Gilbane, Inc., recently released its Spring “Building for the Future” construction economics report and predicted that even if new starts growth were to turn flat for rest of 2015 (which is not expected), starts already recorded over the past 12 months indicate spending for nonresidential buildings in 2015 will increase 15% over 2014, the best growth since 2007.

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Nonresidential new starts have been increasing at an average of 16% per year since a post-recession low was reached in 2012.

The Gilbane report states that nonresidential building starts from April 2014 through February 2015 reached the best three-month average and best six-month average since July 2008 this month.

The construction industry is, by far, the largest consumer of steel products worldwide. Approximately 100 million tons of steel is produced annually in the US. More than 40 million tons of that is delivered to the construction industry. The next largest industries combined (automotive, equipment and machinery) do not consume as much steel as construction.

Steel Demand

Structural steel is the most used structural framing material in the US, with a 58% of market share for nonresidential and multistory residential buildings, based on square footage built. The next closest framing material, concrete, holds only 21% market share.

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The US Census Bureau Producer Price Index (PPI) data for February indicates the PPI for construction inputs increased 0.4% in the month but is down 3.9% year-over-year. Source: US Census Bureau

Gilbane quotes a Gerdau report of year-to-date steel mill capacity utilization currently is at 67.7% (as of April 4, 2015). Capacity utilization a year ago was at 77.1%. Read more

According to a recent report from the Freedonia Group, worldwide demand for copper is expected to advance 4.7% every year to 37.2 million metric tons in 2019. It also says the Asia-Pacific region is expected to see the fastest annual gains, led by increased output in China and India.

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Electrolytic refining of primary copper will be the primary method of production in these countries, but recycled scrap will account for a larger share of total refined copper output.

Construction Spending in India, US

Outside the AP region, the Freedonia report says advances in construction spending would also fuel copper demand in North America, particularly in the US, where early signs of building construction activity significantly increasing exist. This is followed by Western Europe which could see a “moderate increase” in copper demand since construction and manufacturing output there is expected to climb at a below average speed.

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This is our last post on exponential technologies (see part 1part 2 , part 3, part 4 and part 5).

The first industrial revolution came with the increasing use of the steam engine and hand production methods gave way to  machines and assembly lines. The second industrial revolution came with the use of mass production, wherein you can make anything inexpensively as long as you make a million units of it.

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The third industrial revolution is happening now, with digital manufacturing, wherein a new product design does not require a new factory to be made.

So What is 3D printing?

Think of an inkjet printer, these machines convert what’s in your computer (digital instructions) into printed text (two-dimensional object). A 3D printer does the same thing, but it adds a vertical dimension, permitting the creation of three-dimensional objects.

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Local Motors’ Strati, the first 3D-printed car at Autodesk University 2014. Photo: Jeff Yoders

Think about what has happened since we invented the inkjet printer, only about 60 years ago. Instead of handwriting/typing a book page by page, we can now design the whole product (a book) digitally and manufacture it (print it) in minutes. And an ever bigger change occurred as we had access to the internet and inkjet printers became exponentially cheaper. Now, in the 21st century, you can design (or download) any 2D product (text, images) and manufacture it (print it) in your own house, without the need of a factory.

We will see the same evolution with 3D printing, an exponential technology beginning to disrupt a portion of the $10 trillion global manufacturing industry.

In the near future, each of us will have a 3D printer at home. Let’s say you want to buy a new chair, you won’t have to go to a store and buy it, not even buy it on amazon and get it shipped to your house. You will just go online and download the digital design, totally customizable to perfectly fit your house’s needs, then make (print) the chair yourself.

For a more specialized item, like a car, you will go to a 3-D printing service provider to make it and ship it to you, just like you go to an ink provider when you want to print things like banners, calendars, business cards etc.  Take a look for example at shapeways, the company has set up a 3-D printing marketplace, turning people’s designs into realities and also offering instant route to market.

How to 3D Print

These days, there are many different types of 3D printers in the market, from smaller than a pigeon to as big enough to print a house. These machines can print over a hundred different materials ranging from nylons and plastics all the way to biological materials to make living tissues and eventually whole organs.

On a large scale, the presence of 3D printing is already felt in industries such as transportation. Most cars and airplanes today include 3D printed parts. Less than a year ago, Local Motors Inc. printed an entire car on site in a day at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago.

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The federal government’s Highway Trust Fund is nearly dry again. Remember when we played this game last year?

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Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Friday said, “we ought to be embarrassed as a country” about the state of the nation’s infrastructure, as lawmakers once again scramble to beat a May 31 deadline for extending federal transportation funds.

A Patch for the Patch

Lawmakers have talked about passing a $10 billion patch to extend transportation funding until the end of the year, but Foxx said temporary extensions are not sufficient enough to address the nation’s infrastructure needs.

“We ought to be embarrassed as a country,” he said after an appearance at a Washington, D.C., Metrorail subway station in Northern Virginia.

Foxx has a point as last year’s fix for hundreds of millions of dollars in highway, bridge and public works projects was supposed to give lawmakers time to come up with a comprehensive solution to funding the steel, concrete and underground pipe and tunnel work necessary to ensure safety of our rapidly aging infrastructure. The Highway Trust Fund is currently funded only by gas taxes and a user fee that hasn’t been adjusted since 1993.

Manufacturers Urge Long-Term Fix

Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, recently wrote in a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Op-Ed that, “the cycle of short-term fixes already is damaging our economy. States already have pulled back on hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of investment amid uncertainty over whether Congress will pay its trust fund tab. That hurts job creation right here in Wisconsin, among our state’s many manufacturers, contractors and workers in related industries.”

Slater and AEM urged Congressman Paul Ryan, chairman of the influential House Ways and Means committee, to push for a 5-year, fully funded fix for the trust fund rather than another short-term extension.

“Ryan has begun to float a short-term extension to buy himself more time to craft comprehensive tax reform legislation — a laudable goal — which he says would account for highway investments,” Slater wrote. “But the safety of America’s roads and bridges shouldn’t depend on the fate of tax reform, which faces an arduous path forward on Capitol Hill.”

Congress has three weeks to act.

A few weeks ago I had dinner at a friend’s house. The floor ended up kind of messy, so I offered to sweep the floor in gratitude for the delicious meal.

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But that wasn’t necessary because my friend had a vacuum-cleaning robot. I had heard about these robots before but never thought they would work so well. I was impressed.

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I can clean any surface and charge myself, but if you don’t empty me I WILL gorge myself on cat hair and die.

The robot, with sensors built in, was able to avoid every obstacle in the house and recognize the dirtier areas so it could stay longer in those. Finally, when the robot finished cleaning it automatically came back to its spot to recharge itself. This little vacuum-cleaning robot has become exponentially better and cheaper during the past few years and today even a cat can drive one of these. The only real dependence they have on their human guardians is to plug in the charging station and empty them. Read more