Taking Steps to Ensure Quality Imported Aluminum
August 11, 2010
In recent years the United States has seen offshore imports of
aluminum and curtainwall quickly grow. According to the U.S. Census
Bureau, in 2005 U.S. imports from China of bauxite and aluminum
were valued at $464,188,000; in 2009 the value was reported as $599,
932, 000 (down some compared to 2008, which was listed as $617,
672, 000). While the drop between 2008 and 2009 could be attributed
to the slowdown in commercial construction, some in the industry
still have concerns. In particular, how can architects, specifiers
and contract glaziers choosing to work with imported materials ensure
they are getting a quality material? Even more specific, how can
they verify the alloy content of the extrusion?
As one anonymous reader commented, The major [domestic] manufacturers
extrude their own material and only have proper billets in stock.
In Asia, they may be using a common extruder with all kinds of alloys
on the floor, increasing the temptation to just use that one,
no one will really know if they run out of the proper alloy
for the job.
Oliver Stepe, senior vice president with YKK AP in Austell, Ga.,
explained, The alloy and temper are critical as they establish
a baseline for structural values when designing an extrusion used
in fenestration systems such as a storefront, window, or curtain
wall, he said. Control of the alloy and temper within
the prescribed standard ensures the products performance.
Stepe pointed out that from a YKK AP standpoint, his company melts
and casts its own billet so they are able to control the alloy and
temper of the extrusion.
Even when we do import we do so through our companys
affiliates, which are all on the same global standard, he
However, he also pointed out that for those who may be purchasing
materials offshoreor from any domestic manufacturerits
not difficult to test the alloy content and temper. They could
take a sample to any major testing lab to have those levels read,
Other domestic manufacturers also have concerns.
Based on conversations Ive had in the past with glaziers
who have gone that route theres been a lot of misunderstanding
of whats required to do a job here in the United States,
says Dave Hewitt, director of marketing for EFCO, a Pella Company,
in Monett, Mo. There can be issues with quality. Even though
you see a lot of capital investment in the equipment and new plants,
not everyone necessarily has the knowledge, understanding or track
Hewitt also adds, There are a lot of hard-working people
in the United States who need work and we have a lot of capacity,
which makes us competitive.
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