By: RK Steel

The United States is the world’s largest importer of steel, importing approximately 35 million metric tons last year, which accounted for 33% of all steel used in the entire country. Nearly 60% of this total imported steel originates from five countries, 25% of which comes from Canada and Mexico.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration placed tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports coming from various countries to the U.S. The goal of these tariffs is to incentivize U.S. companies to buy steel and aluminum from U.S. producers, with the idea being that this will make the domestic metal industry stronger.

What is a Tariff?

A tariff is a border tax or duty placed on a particular class of imports or exports. Tariffs have been used by governments since the 18th century. Originally, their main purpose was to raise revenue, now they are more often used in order to make foreign products less attractive to consumers; protecting domestic industries from competition.

Steel and Aluminum in the U.S. Construction Industry

Raw steel has many uses in the construction industry, including reinforcing steel in structural concrete, structural steel framing, miscellaneous metal framing and supports. Although the tariffs will affect all these, the single biggest impact will be on structural steel in steel framed buildings.

The cost of structural steel is typically composed of four main elements – raw material, fabrication, delivery and erection at the site. While the cost of these can vary over time and by geographic location, raw steel is typically around 30% of the total cost per ton of structural steel.

What Effect Do They Have?

For those involved in the construction industry, the tariffs raise direct and immediate issues. Contractors are often required to supply and use large quantities of various types of steel products. These tariffs present contractors with considerable uncertainty and financial risk.

These tariffs are a direct charge on imported steel and aluminum products, however, the effect of the tariffs is not limited to imported steel. Volatility is rising in the domestic steel market due to the anticipation of higher cost imported steel, as this will likely lead to an increased demand for domestic steel. The result has been a surge in domestic steel prices.

Challenges Facing Contractors Moving Forward

Contractors main concern will be in relation to price fluctuations between the time they submit a bid to when the contract is awarded. The most likely response to this heightened risk will be an inevitable increase in bid prices to cover the risk of fluctuation. In addition, they may add a clause which limits the amount of time a price can be held.

By: RK Steel 

Testing Welding Candidates Before Hiring is Key

Quality and safety are top priorities when it comes to steel fabrication. In order to produce high quality products, it is important that steel fabricators test welding candidates before they are hired. Some companies will even retest certified candidates to ensure they meet company requirements.

The most efficient way to test welders is to have the capabilities to do so in-house. That said, there are few steel shops in Colorado that test in-house. The majority of shops send their tests to an outside source; results can take over a week to get back and can cost around $20,000-30,000 a year.

Companies that test in-house save time and money with certified weld testers that can review four to five tests a week. On average, two out of five candidates pass and move onto the interview process.

Tests and Standards for Welding Candidates

A 6G test consists of a 2” pipe weld. The test takes an hour and is examined with side bends. Some companies perform an industrial radiography test to examine the internal structure and integrity of the weld.

The structural steel tests are the 3G, vertical position, and 4G, overhead position. These tests go through a four-hour process starting with the visual test. During this test, the inspector looks for any discrepancies or holes that would compromise the end product. The coupon then goes through a root bend and cap bend test. If the candidate passes the bend tests, they are certified, and deemed a good candidate for hire.

Inspecting Steel Before It’s Installed on a Project is Required

Even with a team of certified welders fabricating steel projects; on-going special inspection requirements are necessary for all projects. These inspections are done by an outside party unless you are an AISC certified fabricator and erector, which employee certified testers to perform in-house inspections.

RK Steel is a premier shop for end-to-end design, fabrication and erection of structural steel and miscellaneous metals. RK Steel abides by the AWS Structural Steel and ASME certification standards. We pride ourselves on weld testing candidates before interviewing. Contact us to discuss your steel needs.

By: RK Steel

RK Steel’s CAD team will be transitioning to Tekla Structures BIM software next month to finish out 2015 with a bang. This revolutionary software provides numerous opportunities for our team to stay at the forefront of successful construction planning and execution.

Key software benefits:

Tekla’s 3D modeling ability will improve on time shop fabrication and delivery through increased accuracy and automated information. This will give the team more time to communicate and coordinate ensuring project requirements are met. Tekla also provides a visual solution that can be presented to customers identifying areas of conflict prior to project start. This will allow our team to provide an alternate solution to avoid project risks. In addition, the software will allow our team to increase our capabilities from miscellaneous metal packages to complete structural packages.

To learn more about the Tekla product and how we are putting it to good use, contact us at You can also visit the Tekla website here: