NEW YORK Stainless steel
consumption in the appliance sector is beating expectations and
growing in 2013, while the trend toward lightweighting in
automotive production also should boost stainless consumption,
according to Steven Wasil, Outokumpu Stainless USA LLCs
director of national sales.
An expected drop in stainless
steel usage in the appliance sector in 2013 "has not manifested
itself," Wasil told AMM in an interview. "What has
actually happened is the opposite: weve seen continued
use of stainless, not only in exposed panel applications such
as fridge doors but ... a huge increase in internal components
using stainless," he said.
"Its most notable in the
fabric-care segment," Wasil said. "The market used to be
dominated by top-loaded washing machines, and weve seen a
big migration to front-loaders. So all of the internal baskets
have been converted to stainless, because you have the strength
of stainless and the corrosion resistance. On the dishwasher
side, weve seen a migration away from plastic in
(low-cost appliances) towards stainless steel. At the high end
theyve always been made from stainless, but now the
majority of tubs have converted to stainless, and only very few
dishwashers at the low end are still made from plastic."
Wasil said that overall
appliance sales are likely to improve in 2013 after having
dropped in 2011 and 2012, which he attributed to an
acceleration of sales in 2010 due to the federal
governments "Cash for Crispers" appliance purchase
stimulus program (
amm.com, Oct. 29, 2009). "For 2013, the industry
was giving guidance of 3-percent growth," he said. "We now
expect it will be much stronger."
Wasil said that the automotive
sector has performed even better than the appliance sector as
far as stainless steel consumption is concerned, citing the
growth in sales of the Ford F-150 as indicative of the
sectors resurgence (
amm.com, May 2). "America has gone back to work
and is using more pickups. And pickups use more stainless than
Priuses," he said.
The trend toward
lightweightingeven in heavier vehicles such as the F-150
amm.com, July 27)represents an opportunity
for the stainless sector to gain a greater market share in
automotive, he said. "We actually have a huge opportunity on
the stainless side to facilitate that lighter weight. I think
we will see a greater proportion of stainless in future
vehicles, in structural applications as well as cosmetic. Our
approach as we ramp up (our plant in Calvert, Ala.) will see
automotive be an increasing part of our portfolio."
Wasil said that the
Calvert-based company would spend most of 2013 seeking to gain
crucial certifications from automotive manufacturers for its
plant. "The approvals process for the automotive industry is
complicated and lengthy," he said. "Were aiming to have
it for the end of 2013, but it may spill over into 2014.
Weve got our ISO (International Organization for
Standardization) certification. Now were just working on
the individual requirements of manufacturers."