A report by Grand View Reserarch, Inc. indicates that the global stainless steel market is poised to rise to a valuation of USD 127.19 billion by 2024. Stainless steel is extensively used in various end-use industries such as electronics, transportation, building and construction, and industrial machinery owing to its inherent characteristics such as high tensile strength, resistance, and durability. High recycling rates in comparison to other alloys are likely to positively impact the growth of the market.
By volume, the market stood at 37.89 million tons in 2015. Improving socioeconomic conditions and rapid urbanization along with expanding middle-class population are estimated to provide an upthrust to the market. Increasing consumption in the food and beverages industry and household appliances manufacturing is expected to benefit market growth.
Increasing focus on lightweight vehicles is anticipated to escalate the use of stainless steel in automobile manufacturing. Developed economies in Europe and North America are implementing regulations pertaining to vehicle emissions and fuel economy to curtail global warming. Such regulations are working in favor of the market. Growing investments in construction and infrastructure development are also projected to help the market gain tremendous traction.
Stainless steel finds wide application in the petrochemical and oil exploration and production industries. Burgeoning oil exploration and production activities worldwide to meet incessantly proliferating energy requirements are, therefore, stimulating market growth. Stainless steel is used in the production of heat exchangers, tanks, chemical tankers, pressure valves, process pipes, and cracking furnaces, which are commonly used in the petrochemical industry. In the oil exploration vertical, it is used in offshore platforms, LNG tankers, and sub-sea systems.
Rising use in water supply systems is likely to stoke the growth of the market. Corrosion-free nature of stainless steel makes it optimal for use in pipes for water supply as well storage. It offers a cost-effective solution for water management and does not generate impurity. Based on its high strength, durability, and other properties, several industrial organizations, including Indian Stainless Steel Development Association (ISSDA), are expected to increase its usage in pipe manufacturing.
On the flip side, protean prices of nickel can be a major roadblock for stainless steel manufacturers. However, widening scope of applications in construction, healthcare, renewable energy, and cryogenic industries is anticipated to open new avenues for manufacturers.
Advancements in techniques employed in the production of stainless steel can augur well for the market. For instance, in October 2017, researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Lab, in collaboration with teams from Georgia Tech University, Ames National Laboratory, and Oregon State University, developed a 3D printing technique for producing low-carbon stainless steel called 316L, which exhibits high-ductility and high-strength properties.
The global stainless steel market has been segmented on the basis of grade, product, application, and geography. Based on grade, the market has been classified into 200 series, 300 series, 400 series, and Duplex. The 300 series segment dominated the market in 2015, representing 40% of the overall volume. In terms of product, the market has been bifurcated into long and flat, with the latter accounting for a 70% share that year. Key applications include heavy industry, automotive, building and construction, and consumer goods. Automotive was at the forefront of the market in 2015, commanding 20% of the overall volume, with the building and construction segment posting the highest CAGR between 2016 and 2024.
From a geographical standpoint, the market has been divided into North America, China, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, and Asia Pacific. China is a key revenue contributor in the market and is estimated to register the fastest growth at a 5.9% CAGR during the forecast period. Flourishing automotive and construction sectors in the country can drive the market. The growth of Asia Pacific can be attributed to increasing utilization of stainless steel in the food & beverage processing industry in countries such as Indonesia and India.
By volume, the size of the market in North America was 3,000 kilo tons in 2015. Robust growth of the construction and consumer goods industries is contributing to the growth of the market. Spiraling uptake in oil and gas and heavy industries is also expected to supplement the growth of the regional market.
Some of the key companies operating in the global stainless steel market are Acerinox, POSCO, Aperam, Baosteel, and Outokumpu.