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Virina aiming to enter high-strength sector

Keywords: Tags  Virina Steel, NanoSteel, high-strength steel, HSS, rebar, OCTG, John Wong, John Peng Samuel Frizell

NEW YORK — Virina Steel Co., a new player in the high-strength steel market, is seeking to establish a foothold in the United States and will apply for patents for its steel formula by the end of this week, vice president of sales and marketing John Wong told AMM.

The company has tested a formula that it would license to third-party mill producers to melt their material. The formula could be used for a variety of steel products, including reinforcing bar, oil country tubular goods and flat-rolled sheet, Wong said.

The company has sent material to two U.S. steel pipe makers for testing and plans to begin shipping commercially in Asia by the end of the month.

Virina’s various steel formulas have tensile strengths of between 800 and 2,000 megapascals, company sources said.

"I think everyone’s goal is to increase tensile yield strength of steel and use less," Wong said. "We have a high-strength steel with ultrafine microstructure, and I think we’re going to be a factor in the industry and we hope to be a large supplier."

Virina made its first 100-ton pour for testing through a Taiwanese mill less than three months ago, John Peng, a sales manager at Virina, told AMM. Several employees have Taiwanese roots and the company is initially looking to manufacture through Taiwanese producers, where an agreement with a mill will allow it to establish some traction in the market.

"We always have to think about where’s the best place to spend our money and our time. We have not really started to do a big push in North America. We’ve been focusing a lot in Asia now because they have less regulations than in the U.S. In the U.S. you have to go through rings and rings of testing, and it’s a lot of hassle," Peng said.

The company sought to test its formula at U.S. mills but was turned down.

"I called just about every (U.S.) steel mill and they all turned down sample runs for us. ... We had an offer from a Chinese mill but we turned them down because we’re afraid of the formula being stolen by the Chinese, so we’re more comfortable in Taiwan. When they sign a nondisclosure agreement, they actually mean in it," Peng said.

The company declined to name the Taiwanese mill that it has contracted or the two U.S. pipe makers to which it has sent samples.

Redondo, Calif.-based Virina, originally called Green NanoSteel, renamed itself after it was sued in February for trademark infringement by Providence, R.I.-based NanoSteel Co., a designer of HSS that has been developing its steel formula for 10 years (, March 4). The companies settled the suit out of court. In the short term, Virina said it will not be competing with NanoSteel for market share.

The company, whose chairman of the board and chief executive officer is Edward Nixon, the youngest brother of former president Richard Nixon, will file for U.S. patents by the end of the week and aims to ship commercial loads of material in the United States before the end of the summer, Wong said.

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