CRML SHEET A niche market sliced even thinner by the housing slump

Mar 01, 2008 | 01:35 PM |

U.S. producers of cold-rolled motor lamination (CRML) sheet continue to drive for greater market share, but the market itself is shrinking due largely to the migration of stamping companies out of the country and the overall weakness of the U.S. housing market.

Estimates on the size of the market vary widely. ArcelorMittal USA Inc., Chicago, pegs the U.S. market at about 1 million tons a year, while U.S. Steel Corp. puts it at 1 million to 1.5 million tons. These estimates include both semi-processed and fully processed material, the market's two general segments. However, others say the market is much smaller these days, depleted by the number of stampers who have moved operations out of the United States to the likes of Mexico and China. They put the market for semi-processed CRML—used in multiple motor applications by a variety of industries and end-users—at closer to 600,000 tons a year.

Most major steelmakers in the United States are capable of producing CRML, although some choose not to do so when market conditions are poor.....

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