Wall Street Daily has been covering gold from every angle. But I want to bring your attention to another precious metal trend.
Silver may often take a back seat to gold, but new, fast-growing demand from the tech industry is creating a robust market for this precious metal.
This year alone, industry will likely demand 57% of all silver produced, which represents an all-time high.
Plus, a study prepared for the Silver Institute by the Metals Focus consultancy in London predicts that the demand will grow 5% every year through 2016. This is above the forecast growth for global GDP!
The report states that the technology sector is demanding more and more silver each year for use in flexible electronics, light-emitting diodes, and interposers – all elements in your smartphone or tablet.
On top of that, another new silver-using technology is creating some extremely interesting results.
Sculpting Silver’s Future
You see, it turns out silver is a popular material in the hot field of 3-D printing.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, 3-D printing is a process where a 3-dimensional object is created by a computer by adding successive layers of material.
According to the Silver Institute’s Jeffrey Ellis, there are two types of 3-D printing processes that involve silver.
The first and most common process involves the equivalent of casting silver into a 3-D printed mold, which is nearly the same as traditional silver casting.
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The main advantage of using 3-D printed molds is that they offer a wider range of design capabilities. This is especially important when manufacturing products with intricate designs. Companies are currently using this method to create silver jewelry.
Ellis says the second process, called direct laser sintering, is relatively new and not as widely used yet.
It uses the high intensity and heat of a laser on silver to directly form a solid object. This method is currently being explored by jewelry and silverware manufacturers.
Bottom Line for Silver
It’s too early to accurately gauge how much silver will actually be used by 3-D printing.
Following jewelry, coins could be the next product to take advantage of this new technology.
Even the Silver Institute itself could only hazard a wild guess about the metal’s increased use by new technologies over the next three to four years, predicting that 20 million ounces would be added by 2018.
That’s a drop in the bucket compared to 2013’s physical silver demand, which was in excess of 1,081 million ounces.
I suspect that their guesstimate is too conservative, as 3-D printing and other technologies become more commonplace… which will be great for the price of silver.
And “the chase” continues,