Exploring the Promised Advances in Steel Production and 3D Printing Technology Following Nippon’s Acquisition of U.S. Steel


Charles R. Goulding, Ryan Donley and Preeti Sulibhavi delve into the recent purchase of U.S. Steel by Nippon Steel.

Nippon Steel, the biggest steelmaker of Japan, has made public its agreement to procure U.S. Steel, an American steel manufacturer, in a mega-deal of US$14 billion. Joining their impressive histories and advanced technological abilities will catapult this new entity to become the world’s second-most massive steelmaker. U.S. Steel, despite courting other contenders like ArcelorMittal, Cleveland-Cliffs, and Nucor, selected Nippon Steel – the bidder who offered US$14 billion in cash for acquiring the steelmaker with a 122-year legacy. Post the transaction, U.S. Steel will preserve its original brand, name, and Pittsburgh, PA headquarters. The deal has sparked controversy but U.S. Steel’s downward trend can be redeemed with the numerous resources and management skills Nippon Steel brings in, which can vastly enhance steel manufacturing, technology, and overall functioning.

U.S. Steel has been a pioneer in the steel sector, introducing novel manufacturing capabilities and making firm commitments towards energy efficiency – a vision aligned with Nippon Steel’s goals of sustainability and decarbonization. This dedication and investment in eco-friendly energy applications could receive a substantial push from the incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which are likely to compensate the expenditure in the energy-intensive steel sector.

Steel is a regular component in the 3D printing sector. Army vehicles like tanks and infantry carriers have various features requiring careful upkeep and a single faulty part could render the vehicle ineffective for months due to waiting for parts replacement. Therefore, the idea of deploying 3D printers in the field to produce spare parts is gaining considerable traction.

The United States Army

Scientists at the Army Research Laboratory are responding to this by exploring new ways to print durable steel parts on-demand, with feedstock more than 50 percent stronger than what’s commercially available, said Brandon McWilliams, ARL manufacturing and technology branch team lead.

For McWilliams, the Army’s 3D printing strategy is twofold: sustainment or how to supply soldiers’ parts for legacy systems, and the ability to print parts for future systems.

In traditional steel manufacturing, the material is “subtracted” from a chunk of metal or object. In metal 3D printing it is a process of adding layer upon layer of steel to form an object. Nippon Steel is often one of Japan’s leading patent filers and has an extensive laboratory organization.

Nippon Steel’s R&D organizational chart

Source: Nippon Steel

Both U.S. Steel and Nippon bring together highly advanced manufacturing capabilities as they invest and progress their research and development to support the evolution of steel production.

The Research & Development Tax Credit

The now permanent Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit is available for companies developing new or improved products, processes and/or software.

3D printing can play a significant role in enhancing a company’s R&D tax credits. Compensation attributed to technical personnel involved in the development, testing, and modification of 3D printed prototypes can be factored in as part of the eligible time spent for the R&D tax credit. Likewise, if the technique is used to refine a process, the time invested in the integration of 3D printing hardware and software is considered a qualifying activity. Moreover, when employed for modelling and preproduction, the expense of filaments used within the development process can be reclaimed too.

The use of 3D printing, whether it’s for the design and testing of prototypes or for final production, is a strong signal that activities eligible for R&D credit are happening. Companies that have incorporated this technology at any stage should contemplate making the most of R&D tax credits.

R&D expenditure per employee for various steel companies [Source: R&D Tax Savers]


The acquisition of U.S. Steel by Nippon is a tremendous development for the industry. It could advance metal 3D printing innovation as well.

Original source


“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”

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