The fortunes of the U.S. automotive and
housing markets don't bode well for the aluminized sheet
industry in the short term, according to service center sources
who buy large amounts of the product.
"How is the aluminized sheet market going?
Let me put it this way it's a good thing we're in stainless,"
said one service center source handling both aluminized sheet
and stainless steels.
Joe Block, vice president of Block Steel
Corp., Skokie, Ill., agreed with the assessment. "Generally
speaking, the market for aluminized sheet products is fairly
depressed," he said. "It's tied a great deal to consumer
products--things such as home appliances, where you need heat
resistance--and it's also tied to the automotive exhaust
Both of those markets are down these days,
and service centers are seeing little in the way of demand for
aluminized sheet thanks to the sagging housing market in the
United States and less-than-robust automotive sales.
Prices for aluminized sheet vary with coating
weights, but sources pegged the range at $38 to $40 per
hundredweight ($760 to $800 a ton). The price of aluminum has
little impact on the overall price of aluminized sheet, since
so little of the material (91-percent aluminum and 9-percent
silicon) is actually applied (generally via a hot-dip process)
to the steel substrate, they said.
"We haven't seen an aluminum surcharge on any
aluminized sheet. Zinc will affect the price on hot-dip
galvanized, but you really don't see (aluminum costs) having
much impact on aluminized sheet," one Midwest service center
source said. "We're selling some in small volumes for things
like cookware and barbecue grills. We're seeing some activity
there. I would say that business has been good, but it's kind
of a small niche market. Some of the other areas aren't doing
The three U.S. manufacturers of aluminized
sheet--ArcelorMittal, Chicago; AK Steel Corp., West Chester,
Ohio; and Wheeling-Nisshin Inc., Wheeling, W.Va.--serve a
market that consumes somewhere between 700,000 and 780,000 tons
of the material annually.
The market was enjoying regular growth about
10 years ago, but it has stabilized during the last three or
four years, Block said. "There are strong and weak points to
the market. One of the things that we have lost over the last
several years are the picture tubes that went into television
sets. Now with all the LCD (liquid crystal displays) and plasma
TVs, the tube TVs have gone by the wayside.
"Overall, I would say the market is steady,
but down a little bit because a lot of OEMs (original equipment
manufacturers) have shifted to more use of stainless steels for
things like (automotive) fuel tanks. We're also looking at the
possibility that the use of stainless could trickle to the
after-market. We're starting to see some signs of that going on