AK Steel Breaks Ground for New World-Class Research and Innovation Center

 

West Chester, OH, June 19, 2015—AK Steel (NYSE: AKS) today broke ground for its world-class Research and Innovation Center at a ceremony held in Middletown, Ohio.  The ceremony marked the start of construction of the company’s new 135,000 square foot facility, which is being built on a 16-acre site in the city’s Renaissance District.  The site is located in the Cincinnati – Dayton growth corridor along Interstate 75.
 
AK Steel said that the $36 million facility will be customer-focused, providing advanced technical support to the company’s valued customers, as well as developing new and improved steel products for a number of markets.

“Today’s groundbreaking ceremony represents another important milestone in AK Steel’s long history of innovation in steelmaking technology,” said James L. Wainscott, Chairman, President and CEO of AK Steel.  “Once completed, our new state-of-the-art Research and Innovation Center will provide our talented researchers, scientists and engineers with the tools they need to accelerate development of future game-changing products and processes.”

Mr. Wainscott added, “Throughout our company’s rich history, it has been the commitment to research that has made us a leader in innovation.  While our current research facility in Middletown has served us well for many years, it is time for a new, world-class facility to meet the needs and demands of our business in the 21st century.”

The new facility will be home to the company’s 76 researchers, scientists and engineers who will perform leading-edge research, applications engineering, advanced engineering, product development, and customer technical services.  The company also expects to add 15 new full-time research positions.

Building Features
The new building will feature some of AK Steel’s stainless steel products as part of the exterior design.  Other features of the new facility will include:  state-of-the-art steel research and testing equipment and analytical tools; a Customer Experience lobby showcasing AK Steel’s products and technologies, as well as the company’s heritage of steelmaking; a tiered auditorium for technical conferences; and a Technical Information Center.

Various types of new research equipment will be incorporated into the building for improved testing, design and modeling of new technologies and products, including the development of Next-Generation Advanced High Strength Steels for the automotive industry.

The facility will also house pilot lines that simulate the company’s steel manufacturing operations, ranging from melting and casting, to hot- and cold-rolling, to final finishing.  The pilot lines will be used for enhancing existing products and experimentation for new and improved products.  The pilot line section will include a high bay area with a mezzanine from which customers may view the pilot processes.

The project has received the strong support and cooperation of the State of Ohio, City of Middletown, Warren County Port Authority, JobsOhio, and REDI (Regional Economic Development Initiative) Cincinnati. 

The project developer and builder is Al Neyer, LLC, Cincinnati; project architect is Neyer Architects, Inc., Cincinnati; and, BHDP Architecture, Cincinnati, is designing the interior labs and office areas.

AK Steel said construction of the new facility is expected to be completed by late 2016.  The new Research and Innovation Center will replace the company’s existing research facility that is located at another site in Middletown.  AK Steel’s largest steel manufacturing plant is also in Middletown, and the company’s corporate headquarters is in nearby West Chester, Ohio, a northern suburb of Cincinnati. 

A History of Innovation
The company’s numerous innovations over the years include:  pioneering the world’s first continuous hot rolling sheet mill; creating the world’s first electrical steels; introducing the first commercially-available precipitation hardening grades of stainless steels; and revolutionizing the automotive exhaust market by introducing the world’s first aluminized stainless steels. 

In recent years, AK Steel introduced ULTRALUME®, an Advanced High Strength Steel designed to improve safety and light-weighting of structural components in vehicles, and CHROMESHIELD® 22, a new nickel-free stainless steel with enhanced benefits and stable pricing for customers in the automotive and food service markets.

AK Steel’s innovations continue, as the company announced in early June of 2015 that it had successfully developed the product and process technologies for the company’s Next-Generation of Advanced High Strength Steels (AHSS) for the automotive industry.  By late 2016, AK Steel will have the capability to produce one the first families of commercially-available coated AHSS products in the world, along with Next-Generation cold-rolled AHSS.  These Next-Gen AHSS products will have a combination of high strength and greater ductility than any other AHSS products currently offered in the marketplace.  Next-Generation Advanced High Strength Steels will help automotive customers design lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles that maintain superior strength and safety performance.

Additionally, the company is developing high-efficiency electrical steels that will help the world’s electricity grids become more energy-efficient, and new stainless steels that offer superior corrosion resistance for a wide variety of applications.  The new research and innovation center will enhance AK Steel’s capabilities to bring these products to the marketplace.

AK Steel
AK Steel is a world leader in the production of flat-rolled carbon, stainless and electrical steel products, primarily for automotive, infrastructure and manufacturing, construction and electrical power generation and distribution markets.  Headquartered in West Chester, Ohio (Greater Cincinnati), the company employs approximately 8,000 men and women at eight steel plants, two coke plants and two tube manufacturing plants across six states:  Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  Additional information about AK Steel is available at www.aksteel.com.

Safe Harbor Statement
The statements in this release reflect management’s estimates and beliefs and are intended to be, and hereby are identified as “forward-looking statements” for purposes of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  Words such as “expects,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “intends,” “plans,” “estimates” and other similar references to future periods typically identify such forward-looking statements.  These forward-looking statements reflect the current belief and judgment of the company’s management, but are not guarantees of future performance or outcomes. 

They are based on a number of assumptions and estimates that are inherently subject to economic, competitive, regulatory, and operational risks, uncertainties and contingencies that are beyond the company’s control, and upon assumptions with respect to future business decisions and conditions that are subject to change. Such statements are only predictions and involve risks and uncertainties, resulting in the possibility that actual events or performance will differ materially from such predictions as a result of certain risk factors including adverse effects on the company’s operations and/or financial results related to Magnetation’s bankruptcy; reduced selling prices, shipments and profits associated with a highly competitive industry with excess capacity; changes in the cost of raw materials and energy; the company’s significant amount of debt and other obligations; severe financial hardship or bankruptcy of one or more of the company’s major customers; reduced demand in key product markets due to competition from aluminum or other alternatives to steel; increased global steel production and imports; excess inventory of raw materials; supply chain disruptions or poor quality of raw materials; production disruption or reduced production levels; the company’s healthcare and pension obligations and related laws and regulations; not timely reaching new labor agreements; major litigation, arbitrations, environmental issues and other contingencies; regulatory compliance and changes; climate change and greenhouse gas emission limitations; conditions in the financial, credit, capital or banking markets; the company’s use of derivative contracts to hedge commodity pricing volatility; ongoing challenges faced by Magnetation; inability to fully realize benefits of long-term cost savings initiatives; inability to hire or retain skilled labor and experienced manufacturing and mining managers; information technology security threats and cybercrime; failure to achieve the estimated synergies and other expected benefits of the acquisition of Severstal Dearborn, LLC and/or to integrate it successfully; as well as those risks and uncertainties discussed in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2014, as updated in subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company disclaims any duty to update or alter any forward-looking statements, except as required by applicable law.