American vs Imported Steel

Imported steel has become a major force in the United States steel market, particularly in the last decade. Foreign produced steel has harmed the American steel market, which has been unable to compete when it comes to price. Domestic producers have long protested this inequality and suffered from reduced profitability because of it. In response to this situation, the Trump Administration imposed a 25% tariff on foreign steel imports in 2018, which was intended to improve conditions for domestic steel producers and to lessen the disparity between foreign and domestic prices. Now, several years later, imported steel remains competitive in cost, but buyers need to consider other factors before purchasing it, especially quality. Imported steel is often a risky purchase and experts note that American steel is superior in many ways, so the higher cost is worth it to knowledgeable consumers. Here’s what to look for and how to spot an extraction system that has been fabricated (or assembled) from foreign steel.

Manufacturing Standards

Manufacturing standards should be one of the first things to consider when buying steel, as every country has their own level of quality standards, regulations, and enforcement and the the manufacturing standards and process directly impacts the overall quality of the end product. The United States maintains the highest steel manufacturing standards. The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) establishes voluntary international standards for all types of steel. Of course, companies may choose to ignore these standards. Each country, including China, establishes their own manufacturing regulation and standards. Foreign standards vary as does the degree of enforcement, which can also be impacted by locality corruption

For example, Chinese steel manufacturing has a reputation for “cutting corners” in the manufacturing process. Oversight and enforcement are much more stringent in the United States. While some Chinese steel producers may have acceptable standards, many do not. In general, steel buyers are better protected when they purchase steel produced in the United States.

Grade Quality

Stainless steel comes in grades from 200 to 600 series. Most extraction systems are made from 300 Series (Austenitic Chromium-Nickel Alloys) Stainless Steel, in particular Type 302, 304, and 316 Stainless. 

  • Type 304: The most common grade; the classic 18/8 stainless steel. Also referred to as “A2” in accordance with International Organization for Standardization ISO 3506.
  • Type 316: The second most common grade (after 304); for food and surgical stainless steel uses; Alloy addition of molybdenum prevents specific forms of corrosion. Also known as “marine grade” stainless steel due to its increased resistance to chloride corrosion compared to type 304. SS316 is often used for building nuclear reprocessing plants. Most watches that are made of stainless steel are made of this grade. Rolex is an exception in that they use Type 904L. 18/10 stainless often corresponds to this grade. Also referred to as “A4” in accordance with International Organization for Standardization ISO 3506.

Imported grade qualities may deviate from the standards the Unites States uses for high-quality stainless steel, which is due to an inferior manufacturing process and impurities in the steel.

Corrosion and Oxidation Resistance

Corrosion and oxidation resistance is an important factor in steel quality. These types of metal degradation can shorten the life of steel items, including extraction equipment, and lead to expensive repair or replacement needs. Imported steel is more prone to corrosion and oxidation levels due to impurities introduced during the manufacturing process. American steel degrades much more slowly, even when exposed to the elements. This factor alone makes U.S. steel a smarter buy over the long haul.

Thickness

American steel is generally much thicker than steel manufactured in China. In fact, it is 8 times thicker on average. This difference means that items built from American steel will be more durable, bear more weight, and make items such as gun safes more difficult to breach. High-quality steel is nearly impossible to penetrate.

Strength

Since American steel is thicker, has lower oxidation levels, and is of overall better quality, it is obviously stronger. Foreign steel’s inferior quality means that products built with this metal will fail much more quickly than those made with American steel.

Safety

If buildings, structures, tanks, components, or parts fail, it may be cataclysmic. When constructed from inferior materials, cannabis or hemp extraction equipment can fall. Some buyers of ethanol, hydrocarbon, and Co2 extraction systems are not aware that they are purchasing poor-quality extractors because foreign steel has infiltrated the American market, sometimes through backdoor partnerships with US companies and even well-known extraction companies. Using quality steel is essential for longevity, public safety, and profitability.

Steel Dumping

The inferior quality of imported steel is not the only market issue. China and Mexico have both been caught dumping steel into the American market. This practice artificially lowers steel prices, harming domestic producers and boosting international steel manufacturers.

Environmental Impact

The EPA regulates emissions and other environmental impacts for American manufacturing. This agency sets the standards and works to enforce them in order to protect the environment. Chinese standards are notoriously lax in this area, so relying on their steel or steel products necessarily contributes to global warming.

How to Spot and Avoid an Imported Steel Extraction System?

So you’re shopping for extraction system, how can you tell if a system you’re considering is constructed from inferior foreign steel? Here are some telltale signs that its manufactured by a foreign supplier or with foreign steel:

  • Highly polished steel
  • Poor craftsmanship
  • Crooked, jagged, or spattered welds
  • No ASME stamps on vessels over six inches in diameter
  • Not-peer reviewed
  • It’s strapped “Made in XXXX”
  • Too good to be true pricing

Low prices will always tempt buyers, especially significantly lower prices. However, when it comes to foreign steel, the savings are often an illusion. Poor quality steel simply does not hold up, so products made with this material will often need to be replaced or repaired, making them cost more in the long term. More importantly, cheap steel can be dangerous since it is less durable and weaker than higher-quality steel such as the United States produces. The use of “weak” steel has clear safety implications for consumers.

These are just some of the reasons Iron Fist Extractors uses only the highest quality American Made Steel to fabricate our extraction systems.