Why Is Steel So Expensive?

Discussion in 'The Break Room' started by rake60, Aug 27, 2011.

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  1. Aug 27, 2011 #1

    rake60

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    Steel prices continue to climb.

    A foot of 2" diameter 1144 stressproof is now $31.46 USD.

    Then I think about where it comes from.
    Twenty years ago 80% of all the steel in the USA came from either Bethlehem Steel
    (now gone), or USS (still in business, but struggling).

    The US Navy tells us that the deck of an aircraft carrier is the most dangerous place on
    the planet. I can believe that but these everyday workers may be in the second most
    dangerous place. They call it just another day at work...

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xbm0bUgOLcQ&feature=related[/ame]

    OK, so maybe $31.46 ISN'T all that much.

    Rick
     
  2. Aug 27, 2011 #2

    Tin Falcon

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    I just about drive through a steel mill about once a month the pant is on both sides of Rt 13 in Caymont Del . the place is considered a mini plate specialty mill that makes carbon steel plate.
    http://www.evrazcs.com/index.html
    Tin
     
  3. Aug 27, 2011 #3

    ozzie46

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    I worked at a steel mill here in Pueblo Colorado, CF&I Steel Mill, in the late 70s.

    Worked in the Coke Plant for a spell. Made coke for the Blast Furnace. Then went to the Basic Oxygen Furnace. They had a large radio controlled Cat to push the spilled hot slag out from under the kettles? (Can't remember the real name).Those 2 places are about as close to Hell as I ever want to be. They had an Arc furnace also and it was sure noisy. The humm was maddening to me.

    In the early 80s the mill went down, almost closed. Now it is Russian owned. Evrez Rocky Mountain Steel it's called.

    Bast furnace and Oxygen furnace gone. They only make steel out of scrap metal now with the Arc Furnaces. Work force cut by half to 2/3rds. Sure cleaned up our air though. We used to be called Pew Town.

    Ron
     
  4. Aug 27, 2011 #4

    tattoomike68

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    I did 2 years in a foundry and that video shows how hot and dirty it was. Its a job for bad ass men and women, most newbs would not make it a day.

    In seen big and tough men who could do their time as a US marine but not make it till morning break at 10:00 AM on thier first day of work.

    Im not saying it was a bad job, im saying is was total hell and you could die there at any time.

    yea no fun time. its just pure hell.
     
  5. Aug 11, 2018 at 5:18 PM #5

    Uguessedit

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    Old post thinking wow! $30 some for a small bar. Looking today with new tariffs and McMaster Carr among others and I’m seeing $135/ft pricing depending on grade up to $300/ft. Simply I want to make my own tool holders and it’s less expensive tonjust buy them. What a shame today’s world has become that steel is so far out of reach that we (the average) folks want alternatives or seek Ebay, scrap yards, etc.., for less expensive alternatives. Even the cost of aluminum has doubled the past year something very close to what I see. It is less of an impact for the products we make at work however if we had to make them from steel we couldn’t even come close to being competitive. The cost of raw materials is nearly the cost of a finished aluminum product. It’s eye bulging really. I bet in 2011 you didn’t imagine these excessive increases and economical impacting decisions by an administration who lives large enough the expense doesn’t matter to them. Sadly small businesses are struggling nowadays even more so to compete with overseas products. This is giving those overseas the ability to alsonincrease their pricing knowing our raw materials cost have become excessive. It’s bad for us and good for them. Exactly the opposite of what was intended.
     
  6. Aug 11, 2018 at 5:43 PM #6

    Entropy455

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    US steel is so expensive because US environmental regulations have made it almost cost-prohibitive to burn coal. Remember that half of our electric grid is coal fired - meaning that electric arc furnaces are essentially 50% coal fired, and electricity generation is 33% percent efficient at best. This is why US coal, and US scrap iron, go out of the country to be made into new steel (Canada, Taiwan, China, Korea, etc) - and sold back to the US at very significant profit $$$. Like him or hate him - Trump is trying to fix this problem (i.e. steel currently costing more per pound than produce at the grocery store). . . .
     
  7. Aug 11, 2018 at 7:00 PM #7

    mcostello

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    Water is often more expensive than Gasoline.
     
  8. Aug 12, 2018 at 5:35 AM #8

    Uguessedit

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    Yeah I voted for the man. He has a big mess. The entire trade regulations/agreements have gone so far to the advantage of everyone else. Hoping like intended this is a temporary ploy to even out the playing field. The current atmosphere has to change and yes I’d agree with your coal statement however from 2011 until now has had very little affect. We are currently experiencing the worldwide atmosphere pressuring the United States to give in to their favor. I haven’t a clue how or if he will fix it. It is very complicated and essentially leveraging those other countries supplying the raw materials may or may not be to favor. In many cases they just play angry and don’t care holding out until the USA gives in. That is to speak to history we tend to always back pedal and everyone knows this. I think I’m the given case it will take more than a term and whomever comes in next may not have the same attitude in leveling out this trade war. Still to see the pricing this past year I have been hesitant and waited to purchase and finding myself seeing higher prices every few weeks. When you’re a cheap old man and like making things you are shocked at that $76 6” x 2.5” section of round bar. Laughing I’m staring at a small piece I picked up cheap on eBay that turned out to be through hardened, lmao. Go figure. Thought I scored and sure did. Might take me a week to machine it but I’m certainly determined. :)
     
  9. Aug 12, 2018 at 5:00 PM #9

    Nick Hulme

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    When you buy a foot or 18 inches you're paying for the pleasure of someone else holding onto the remainder of the length, cutting bits off and selling it off a one piece at a time, form a co-operative or club and bulk buy, full lengths of material, when you collect from the stockist, are far, far cheaper.
     
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  10. Aug 13, 2018 at 2:08 PM #10

    wrljet

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    I just checked McMaster-Carr.
    US $43 for a foot of 2" 1144 Stressproof.
    Up from the original poster's $31.46 in 2011.

    That grade is made by Niagara LaSalle Steel in USA.


     
  11. Aug 13, 2018 at 2:17 PM #11

    SmithDoor

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    If buy From a steel warehouses in 12 bars the will drop per ft
    Try steel from Home Depot , Lows or TSC a 3 or 4 FT will cost same as 20 FT from the steel warehouses
    Back March I when to and purchase 360 pounds to save money and new T tax

    Dave

     
  12. Aug 13, 2018 at 2:39 PM #12

    popnrattle

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    recently bought 10 pcs. of 1018 CRS, 7"dia. x 1-1/8 thick cut to length(1.065 finished) for 26.00 + TN sales tax. That'll make 5 of the engines in the vid link. These 5 will have 1-3/8 bore(up from 1-9/32) still with .112 cyl. wall thickness.

     
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  13. Aug 13, 2018 at 2:50 PM #13

    ignator

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    I've had good luck purchasing steel from eBay. The shipping can end up being a bit.
    example : $35 for 3"x1' round bar, $24.46 shipping.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018 at 2:57 PM
  14. Aug 13, 2018 at 4:53 PM #14

    nel2lar

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    Well, get ready for the price to double. Canada just put a 45% tariff on steel. Too much going on at the top that is going bankrupt this country.
     
  15. Aug 13, 2018 at 7:43 PM #15

    Anatol

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    this thread has got quite complex, quite quickly. Its interesting to see how global problems are having very local effects, in our small community. Steel is going up in price (in the USA). Why? I guess it is a combination of long historical forces and current isolationist politics.

    I lived for a long time in Pittsburgh PA, which at one time (1920s?) produced more steel than the rest of the world combined. Pittsburgh produced obscenely rich robber barons - the Carnegies and Mellons and Fricks. Meantime, lots of working people, including refugees from Eastern Europe and African Americans from the south - got sick and injured and died working and living in dangerous and unhealthy environments. The air was so poisonous that trees would not grow in the river valley. Office workers had to change their shirts at lunchtime. Houses had a shower in the basement, when you came home you undressed and showered down there so as not to bring soot into the house. The big steel mills along the river in Pgh have been silent for 50 + years, now almost all bulldozed. The valley has trees again. They've scrubbed the encrusted soot off most of the old buildings.

    The West got rich on oil and coal in the 19th and early 20th centuries. After WWII, the US chose to close down its heavy industries and import, rather than update its industrial base. Asian countries built new, more efficient industry making better, cheaper product - and exploited cheap labor. We've benefitted from their cheap labor in unhealthy factories for decades, while they died of black lung and silicosis and mesothelioma and chemical induced cancers other unmentionable industrial diseases. I've travelled in industrial cities in China where giant chimneys belch yellow smoke and everyone has respiratory problems.

    Now China and India and other countries want a bit of what we got. Can't blame 'em. But the problem is now global. Industrialisation set in motion processes that are causing the greatest extinction on the planet since the Jurassic. It threatens human life as well - our kids and grandkids. The arctic and antarctic ice is melting into the sea and an alarming rate. Humans now use over 80% of the fresh water on the planet. Tropical storms are more frequent, more severe and more unpredictable. California is on fire.

    Coal and oil is fantastic stuff! We get plastics, chemical, drugs, solvents, dyestuffs, paints and other useful things from it. The last thing we should do with it is burn it! Burning coal for energy was a good idea 200 years ago. We've got better, cleaner technology for making energy now.

    The science has been clear for decades. Now even professional organisations in the petrochemical industries agree. Sadly, the United States is no longer a world leader in seeking global solutions (or even recognizing global problems). That international leadership is being taken up by other countries. There is a new international economic alliance called BRICS. It does not include USA and most in the USA have never heard of. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BRICS. Big changes are happening on the world stage. Fasten your seatbelt, it could be rough ride.

    We have many members from outside US and I guess their perspectives on this conversation might be quite different - I'd like to hear them.

    Just to mention that I too have worked in foundries, in my youth, and they were the hardest, hottest, dirtiest and most dangerous jobs I've ever had.

    A
     
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  16. Aug 13, 2018 at 10:23 PM #16

    Kskie

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    Hold on as I think this maybe just the beginning .

    From a Canadian perspective we have seen our steel costs go up 40 to 50% in the last two months .
    As soon as the word tariff was spoken domestic producers on both sides of the border realized that they
    could immediately start increasing their selling prices . Companies that had money began buying steel in large
    quantities and that put a run on steel supply and costs began to rise. There will be no winners in this trade war .
    Consumers loose by paying higher prices immediately ,Workers loose a little later on when demand starts to fall
    and jobs disappear . A good explanation although from a Canadian viewpoint .
    https://www.thestar.com/news/canada...nada-us-trade-war-but-were-afraid-to-ask.html

    Ironically I work for a company that had purchased almost all it's coil steel from US distributors for the last 20 years .
    We always purchased where we could get best value, its what you have to do to survive .

    As far as I know Canada has 3 main steel producers , non are Canadian owned anymore.

    Stelco- Owned by US Steel .
    Daffasco - Owned by Arcelor Mittal
    Algoma - Essar India

    K
     
  17. Aug 14, 2018 at 1:49 AM #17

    twineman

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    Sorry nel2lar, but Trump was the one who imposed the tariffs on steel and aluminum going into the US from Canada, 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum.
     
  18. Aug 14, 2018 at 2:26 AM #18

    Hopper

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    The prices you guys are quoting are way cheaper than we pay in Australia, if we can even get something as exotic as stress-proof or free-machining. Then shipping on top of that can cost as much again (I live at least 1,000 miles from the nearest online metal supplier).

    Just for a quick example, on Ebay Australia right now, a piece of 1.5" round bar, 8" long costs $20 plus $14 shipping. That's basic 1045 mild steel. For Stress-Proof or free-machining, price goes through the roof, if you can find it. A piece of 4" diameter 4140 chro-moly just 2" (yes, inches) long is listed at $25 plus as much again almost for shipping.

    For our hobby, only small quantities are needed so I don't see it as any big deal. Especially when you compare the cost of kits of castings and materials for model engines that sell for $500 to $1,000 and more, plus international shipping of $100 or more. If I can make an engine out of bar stock and have to spend a hundred bucks on bar, I'm still way ahead. Mostly I use offcuts of bog standard 1020 mild steel black bar from the local steel supplier that cost about the same as the examples above but without shipping, but the range is limited. (Yes they sell their offcuts by the inch at the regular price, but give you a "break" on no cutting fee!)

    Enjoy your access to cheap, good quality steel, and carry on machining.
    And when you are driving to the steel yard, be thankful you are not paying $6 a gallon for gasoline like we do.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018 at 2:41 AM
  19. Aug 14, 2018 at 4:50 AM #19

    Racene

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    Aluminium Bar in any grade or Diameter in Australia is so expensive you need a bank loan to purchase any and its mined and refined not to mension smelted here in all grades,you guys in the states pay a pitance for this product so I think you are very lucky,steel same expensive,we are just a hole in the ground to the rest of the world,yep I'm with you Hopper,I'd love to have access to cheap good quality steel and aluminium instead of buying off second hand merchants.
     
  20. Aug 14, 2018 at 6:55 AM #20

    Entropy455

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    Hopper, McMaster-Carr sells a wide variety of metals, including stress-proof, free-machining, tool-steel, etc. Their prices are higher than average (in my opinion), but not outrageous. Will McMaster-Carr not ship to Australia?
     

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