How Sullivan works with Aubert & Duval to fulfill America’s demand for specialty steel: A Case Study

Sullivan Steel Feature Photo - Case Study

Sullivan Steel works with a wide range of specialty steel mills worldwide to bring customers the materials they need for demanding applications. See how we partnered with France-based mill Aubert & Duval.


The specialty steel market in the U.S. was constrained by:

  • Limited availability of niche alloys to support production
  • Lack of truly competitive grades for under-served, high-performance steels
  • Mill lead times affecting the specialty metal supply chain


Aubert & Duval enables Sullivan to:

  • Import new aerospace bearing-steel grades
  • Support the new grades with testing and qualification
  • Expand into different markets, including motorsports


  • Customers gain access to high-performance steels with fast delivery
  • Sullivan reaffirms their reputation for keeping premium metal in stock
  • Aubert & Duval enhance their presence in North America


A few specialty aerospace grades were under-served in the U.S. market, and customers sometimes had trouble sourcing a viable steel for their projects.

Aerospace specifications typically call for high-performance alloys when manufacturing critical parts. Sullivan Steel (a “go-to” distributor for specialty metals) saw that several niche bearing grades were in demand but not well served, so they sought alternatives.

But introducing a new aerospace-worthy steel to America is no easy task.

Sullivan would need to source competitive grades, build trust with the mill, and help qualify the material in order to market the steel successfully.

“We needed stock on the ground to support not only programs but also development. When somebody wants to qualify these special grades, they want a bar of it; they don’t want to wait a year and buy 2,000 pounds at a time. Nobody wants to do that.

Aubert & Duval Specialty Alloys

A&D is a steel mill headquartered in Paris, France. They develop high-performance metallurgical solutions for demanding markets such as aerospace & motorsports. Proprietary grades include XD15NW®, XD16N®, CX13VDW®, and more.

XD15NW®     (AMS 5925) is primarily used for mission-critical aerospace bearings and ball screws. It’s a high-nitrogen ESR re-melted martensitic stainless steel, offering comparable performance to AMS 5898.

XD16N® (AMS 5926) is a high-nitrogen martensitic stainless steel for corrosion, temperature, and wear resistance for non-flight critical applications. It is essentially an “air-melt only” version of XD15NW, with similar qualities at a lower price point.

CX13VDW® (AMS 5719) is a carburizing stainless steel for structural applications, such as ball screws, injection bodies for corrosive environments, and shafts with parts operating in corrosive environments like seawater.


Sullivan began distributing Aubert & Duval bar stock out of their New Jersey facility, offering customers technical support and cut-to-size services.

Sullivan recognized that Aubert & Duval had created several unique aerospace alloys—XD15NW®, XD16N®, and CX13VDW®—and that these steels could potentially support the American market if supply chains became uncertain. 

Aubert & Duval’s alloys exhibited similar performance characteristics to some familiar AMS grades but were largely unknown to the North American market. A&D and Sullivan built a symbiotic and open relationship to stock, support, and establish these specialty steels with North American customers.

“We were there to develop the market rather than get instant sales. We went to many customers together with Aubert & Duval to introduce the steel. That’s a relationship you will never see in the distribution market.”

The new grades were an obvious fit for the aerospace market, and soon, Sullivan introduced the steel to another industry with similar performance demands—motorsports. Sullivan’s distribution model was geared to serve niche customers, like race car part machinists, who order small quantities of specialized steel and expect it fast.

“Sullivan is unique compared to a lot of the distributors out there. We’re known to keep metal on the shelf, and handle and cut grades that sell very little every year. We manage our inventory to fill small orders quickly.”

In 2016, Aubert & Duval entered into an exclusive agreement with Sullivan to distribute proprietary alloys XD15NW®, XD16N®, and CX13VDW®. 


North America’s high-performance-alloy supply chain is more robust. Sullivan’s flexible distribution helps customers get premium metals with short lead times.

Distributing Aubert & Duval’s premium steel in America is a win for Sullivan, A&D, and the marketplace in general. 

“Aubert & Duval, from the beginning, has always been known as making some of the best high-quality steel in the world, but it was a challenge for them to support that steel in North America. Through this relationship, they found good success. We both found good success.”

Customers can access alternative alloys to keep their programs running during a steel crunch; Aubert & Duval expands their recognition and presence in America; and Sullivan (through their relationship with many mills, including Aubert & Duval) always has viable steel in stock to support customers.

“You’re getting a true alternate that does everything you need. With steels like XD15NW® we’ve been able to keep a lot of programs afloat. That’s the real role of what a service provider should be doing in the distribution world.”

Sullivan supports the steel we sell. Our experts ask questions to truly understand a customer’s needs so we can help them select the steel that works for their particular application. 

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“On the front lines with the next steel that’s going to solve a problem for our customers—that’s where Sullivan wants to be. Cutting-edge, niche; those are the grades we get with Aubert & Duval.” -Todd Chavanne, Business Development, Sullivan Steel


Want to learn more about high-performance steels from Aubert & Duval? Reach out to Sullivan Steel today.

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