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Pipemakers could gain from auto aluminum shift

Mar 07, 2014 | 02:44 PM |

Tags  Lynn Lupori-Gray, Hatch Associates, flat-rolled steel, aluminum, Ford Motor, Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — Welded pipe and tube makers could eventually benefit from automakers’ shift to aluminum by gaining access to lower-priced flat-rolled steel, according to an industry analyst.

“By 2019, there could be 3.1 million tons of flat-rolled (steel) that was traditionally going to an automotive application ... that’s going to be looking for a home. One of those homes is going to be pipe and tube,” Lynn Lupori-Gray, managing consultant in Hatch Associates Pty Ltd.’s North American Strategy Consulting Practice, said at AMM’s seventh annual Steel Tube and Pipe Conference in Houston.

Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford Motor Co.’s upcoming aluminum-bodied F-150 pickup truck reduces flat-rolled steel use to about 23 percent of overall weight from 40 percent in previous models, Lupori-Gray said. “That’s huge when you talk about the amount that went to that one particular vehicle.”

There is the possibility that with the success of aluminum in automotive, producers could look to make inroads in other applications, she said. “I can almost guarantee you that oil and gas applications—especially the downhole applications—are top on their list.”

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