Tyneside firm sells steel to China after impressing with speciality produce


A Tyneside company has bucked the trend of recent years by winning an order to export steel to China.

Sound Damped Steel (SDS), which is based on the Tyne Tunnel Trading Estate in North Shields, has won an order to send 40 tonnes of its speciality product to a manufacturing plant in China.

The Chinese have dominated the global steel industry in recent years, with many UK and other firms complaining that the Chinese authorities have “dumped” their products at cheap prices, subsidised by the Chinese state, to take control of the market.

Chinese firm Jingye recently rescued British Steel, including its two plants on Teesside.

SDS’ product is a particular type of steel that reduces sound from industrial units, and works by taking two layers of steel with a polymer in between them to absorb sound.

Company founder Les Thompson said: “Three years ago we had an inquiry from an engine manufacturer in China, and samples were sent out for testing.

“A long time passed, then in October an order for 300 sheets of SDS laminated steel weighing 15 tonnes was received. This was shipped in a dedicated container the same month.

“Then the virus struck. Communication was difficult to achieve as the customer was in isolation, then three weeks ago an email requesting two containers of SDS weighing 20 tonnes each and totalling in excess of 1,000 sheets of laminated steel. This is expected to be repeated every three months .

“This is excellent for our local North East economy.”

Sound Damped Steel was established by Mr Thompson in 2003 to develop, manufacture and supply highly damped materials for industrial noise and vibration control applications.

The company supplies steel to manufacturers to incorporate into their products, and also works with UK hifi companies to improve their products. It has also developed cladding for gas pipelines at power stations.

The Chinese order – which will involve more than 1,000 sheets of laminated steel being shipped – has seen SDS take on extra staff, as well as creating orders for other North East firms in its supply chain.

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