Perspectives from a Steel Fabricator

According to the American Iron & Steel Institute, the steel industry supports over one million jobs in the United States and every one job in our industry supports seven jobs in the overall national economy. What happens in the steel market is therefore not just important to those of us directly involved in steel fabrication, but to virtually every person in our country.

At the end of last month, raw steel output in the United States hit an eight month high. The mills operated on an average capacity utilization of 78.4% and made 1,885,000 net tons of steel. For comparison, during this same week last year, the mills operated at 76.2% capacity and produced 1,827,000 tons.

With the steel mills producing more steel and utilizing a greater percentage of their overall capacity, one may think that supply is abundant and prices are level. However, from our vantage point as a steel fabricating company, we see just the opposite. Mill lead times are out 10-12 weeks, which is the longest in several years. Prices have climbed $130 per ton and the amount of foreign material available is not enough to have any real effect on the domestic market. All of this, coupled with the still frozen waterways, has created some challenges for fabricators and end users trying to secure the material needed to manufacture parts. However, it is also an indicator that the market is gaining strength, which is certainly good news across the country.

J & J Burning has been in this business for 56 years. We have established strong relationships with many steel suppliers and will continue to have access to the material needed to fill orders
at competitive prices despite the pressures in the market.

Domestic Steel Plate Prices December 2009 - Present

Domestic Steel Plate Prices
December 2009 – Present

Domestic Steel Mill Capacity Utilization January 2008 - Present

Domestic Steel Mill
Capacity Utilization
January 2008 – Present

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Large Capacity Steel Fabricator



250,000# Steel Fabrication

250,000# Steel Fabrication

The Base and Top Housing in these photos are two main components used to build a Hydraulic Roller Leveler.
Hydraulic Roller Levelers have become the most versatile and efficient metal flattening machines on the market today. Adjustments are accomplished by moving only the Base portion of the Leveler. With brute hydraulic force, stress is neutralized while delivering a premium quality product day after day. Development of world class controls and a unique set of options have made these Levelers very productive and easy to operate, while maintaining outstanding stretching and flattening repeatability.
To begin the manufacturing process of these enormous fabrications, certified A36 grade steel plates, ranging in thickness from 2” through 8” were purchased from local steel warehouses and domestic steel mills. The plates were cut to size, with precision tolerances, on J & J Burning’s state of the art oxy fuel and plasma cutting systems. When the burned parts and structural steel details were ready, skilled craftsmen, known as Fitters, assembled the jobs per the customer’s specifications. Once the assemblies were complete, the Base and Top Housing went through a tightly controlled weld conditioning process, called “stress relief”. The weldments were loaded into furnaces set to 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit for a ten-hour cycle. A slow cooling process followed to complete the removal of stresses in all welds. After that, the fabrications were shot-blasted to clean the steel to a near white condition, which is an ideal surface for painting. The final painting of both parts was completed in our 40’ Devilbiss paint booth.
When the custom steel specialty components were completely inspected and ready to ship, they had a combined weight of more than 250,000 pounds.
We pride ourselves on being part of an elite group of large capacity metal fabricators in the United States that is able to successfully manufacture parts of this size. We have the experienced workforce and high quality standards that are required to meet the exacting standards of customers throughout the country.

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Custom Steel Fabrications, Plastics Industry

Heavy Steel Plate BurningIntricate Machining of a Metal Fabrication   Side View of Completed Weldment
The accompanying photos show a custom steel fabrication called a Feed Housing built by J&J. It is part of a critical assembly in a plastic blow molding machine. The first photo shows the raw part, which was burned from a 20” carbon steel plate. It was then welded, thermal stress relieved, sand blasted and prime painted. After that, the part was processed through final machining involving tight tolerances and intricate dimensions, as you can see in the second and third photos. When the machining was complete and thoroughly inspected, J&J final painted the part and prepared it for shipment.

We also recently manufactured a fabricated and machined Stationary Platen for the same customer. The base of the mammoth 48,000 pound platen in this photo is a steel plate that measures 8 1/2 x 87 x 168.
The platen took 300 hours to build, including 180 hours just to weld the ribs and forgings to the base plate.
Using this steel fabrication, our customer was able to update a large, integral component of a machine after years of use instead of replacing the entire machine. In this case, the customer had a perfectly operational 15 year old Structural Foam Machine that no longer required the plastic mold pattern it was designed for. Rather than scrapping the machine, they were able to produce a completely different mold pattern by replacing the Stationary Platen.

Steel Plate Fabrication

To view more steel fabrications built by J & J, go to and click on our photo gallery.

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