Because the Castrip® process operates best when making thin products at high casting speeds, exciting opportunities are now being created for a new sheet steel product category. The potential exists for Ultra-thin Cast Strip (UCS) products to be used in many applications, substituting for both hot rolled and cold rolled steel sheet. As shown in Figure 1, each Castrip product has unique characteristics, which translate to a host of potential end uses. For example, “as-cast” product can be used to produce structural tubing and shelving among other things, while metallic/organic coated Castrip product possesses characteristics that make it useful for the production of roofing, walling, fencing, appliances and other finished products.
As indicated in Figure 2, the initial target markets for strip cast products include steel fabrication, cold mill feedstock, painted purlins, structural decking and light gauge steel framing, as well as tubular goods and structural applications such as racking. As strip casting development continues and market expectations increase, product opportunities will expand. Projected future markets for Castrip products include HVAC, office furniture, appliances, food packaging and exposed automotive panels. The potential also exists for additional market opportunities unknown and unexplored at this time.
While construction of the Crawfordsville plant was being completed, the Nucor sales team was already busy formulating a plan for communicating the benefits of Castrip UCS (Ultra-thin Cast Strip) products to the sheet steel market. (The UCS acronym is used to distinguish the material from hot rolled and cold rolled sheet.) They began speaking to customers in June 2001, and early response from the market was positive, showing that many are eager and excited to begin exploring the opportunities offered by the Castrip product.
Since mid 2002 the Nucor sales team has introduced Castrip products to the market in a controlled fashion, keeping a close eye on product performance. Initially, the plant cast sheet at 1.7 to 1.8 mm (0.067 to 0.071") thickness and the product has been utilized as feedstock for further cold rolling at Crawfordsville. Initially, all of the production was onsumed by Nucor divisions and used primarily in construction applications. Since late 2002, UCS products have been utilized in applications such as structural decking, purlins, steel studs, rollformed panels, tubing, et., both by Nucor subsidiaties and outside customers.
As development progresses, Nucor plans to bring a high-strength UCS product to the market, which should be particularly appropriate for end uses such as racking systems. Additionaly the company hopes to be in a position to produce medium- and high-carbon grades, as well as 409 stainless for automotive applications. The final goal will be to cast strip products very thin (<1.2 mm) then hot roll directly to very light guages (0.7 to 0.9 mm).