CRML SHEET If there is light at the end of the tunnel, it’s flickering

Mar 01, 2008 | 01:37 PM |

Niche markets face their ups and downs, and the downs can become pretty severe in trying economic times. The cold-rolled motor lamination (CRML) sheet market is a prime example.

A combination of factors—the weakness of the U.S. dollar, a lagging residential construction market and a shift in operations offshore—is driving the niche market to shrink from its already small standing, according to analysts. The exact size of the market is somewhat hazy.

"It used to be a market of about 1 million tons or so," Patrick McCormick, joint managing partner at World Steel Dynamics Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., said. "But because of the international play—the weakness of the dollar—you're seeing the market shift to the point where it's no longer a 1-million-ton market in the U.S. It's about 30 to 40 percent of that. I'd say 600,000 tons per year is a reasonable number, and it's getting smaller."

CRML's most popular use is in household appliances, but it also is used in some industrial applications, like large motors and transformers.....

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