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HQ 952495

December 23, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 952495 RFA


TARIFF NO.: 7226.99.00

District Director of Customs
Columbia-Snake District
Portland, OR 97207

RE: IA 42/92; Wood Band Saw Steel Strip; Polishing; Grinding; Further Worked; 7226.92.70; 7226.92.80; 7226.99.00; PC 859260 Modified

Dear District Director:

This is in response to your Request for Internal Advice No. 42/92 (C2A-1-CS:LJS), dated June 22, 1992, regarding the classification of certain wood band saw steel strip under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The merchandise is wood band saw steel strips which are a flat cold-rolled product, not tool steel, manufactured by Daido in Japan.

According to the submission by counsel for the importer, during the manufacturing process, cold-rolled strips of steel are heat treated in order to harden and temper the steel. This is necessary to ensure that the strip will possess the strength and flexibility characteristics required of band saw blade. A grayish-black oxide scale forms on the surfaces of the steel as a result of the heat treatment.

The next step in the manufacturing process is to place the steel strips through a roll-grinding machine which uncoils the material and passes it through the roll grinders. Both the top and bottom surfaces pass through two cylindrically shaped roll- grinders. The first pair of rollers are coated with an abrasive of 80 grit, while the second pair of rollers are coated with an abrasive of 220 grit.


Does the two-step grinding process by the manufacturer result in the wood band saw steel strip being "further worked" under the HTSUS?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, taken in order.

The imported merchandise has been classified under subheading 7226.92.70, HTSUS or subheading 7226.92.80, HTSUS, depending on the thickness.

Subheading 7226.92.70, HTSUS, provides for: "[f]lat-rolled products of other alloy steel, of a width of less than 600 mm: [o]ther:. . .[n]ot further worked than cold-rolled: [o]ther: [o]f a width of less than 300 mm: [o]f a thickness not exceeding 0.25 mm. . ."

Subheading 7226.92.80, HTSUS, provides for: "[f]lat-rolled products of other alloy steel, of a width of less than 600mm: [o]ther:. . .[n]ot further worked than cold-rolled: [o]ther: [o]f a width of less than 300 mm: [o]f a thickness exceeding 0.25 mm . . ."

Your office is of the opinion that the subject wood band saw steel is classifiable under subheading 7226.99.00, HTSUS, because the steel has been further worked due to surface grinding which resulted in a polished finish. Subheading 7226.99.00, HTSUS, provides for "[f]lat-rolled products of other alloy steel, of a width of less than 600mm: [o]ther:. . . [o]ther."

Additional U.S. Note 2 to Chapter 72 provides that "[f]or the purposes of this chapter, unless the context provides otherwise, the term 'further worked' refers to products subjected to any of the following surface treatments: polishing. . ." (emphasis in original).

In a letter dated August 19, 1991, by counsel for the importer argues that the mechanical descaling process performed on the product is to remove oxide crust formed during heat treatment. The importer cites to General Explanatory Notes 72(IV)(C)(1) and 72(IV)(C)(2)(b), page 981, in support of his argument that the grinding process performed does not constitute "further worked". General Explanatory Notes 72(IV)(C) state that

[t]he finished products may be subjected to further finishing treatments or converted into other articles by a series of operations such as: (1) Mechanical working, i.e., . . . grinding. . .; however it should be noted that rough turning merely to eliminate the oxidation scale and crust. . .are not regarded as finishing operations leading to a change in classification. (2) Surface treatments or other operations. . .to improve the properties or appearance of the metal. . .Except as otherwise provided in the text of certain headings, such treatments do not affect the heading in which the goods are classified. They include: . . . (b) [d]escaling. . .to remove the oxide scale and crust formed during the heating of the metal.

The importer does not address Additional U.S. Note 2 to Chapter 72 in his arguments that the manufacturing process only descales the wood band saw steel. The importer's citation to General Explanatory Note 72(IV)(C) does not establish a context which prevents the application of Additional U.S. Note 2 to the manufacturing process of the wood band saw steel.

Instead, in the August 19, 1991 letter, counsel makes several arguments as to why the manufacturing process performed is only grinding and not polishing. Counsel raises seven different ways to distinguish between grinding and polishing. They are: type of backing; type of abrasive; metal removal; speed/surface coverage; purpose of operation; finish codes and surface roughness.


Counsel argues that a distinction can be made between polishing and grinding based upon the type of backing used on the abrasives. Counsel states that polishing is the use of abrasives firmly attached to a flexible backing, such as a wheel or belt, while grinding is the use of abrasives firmly adhered to a rigid backing. Because the manufacturer's roll-grinders have a rigid, inflexible backing and operate in a stationary position as the material passes through, counsel believes that the process is not polishing. As described, the rollers work as a rigid precoated wheel.

Based upon U.S. Customs Headquarters laboratory analysis, dated November 3, 1992, it is our understanding that "[b]efore the introduction of flexible belts, polishing wheels (sometimes referred to as "setup wheels", because they must be coated with abrasives and otherwise prepared before use) were the only existing medium for polishing. Therefore, the rigid precoated rollers used by the manufacturer can be used either for grinding or polishing. The rollers' use depends on the type and grit size of the abrasive."

Counsel states that cloth such as felts, woven cloths and napped or piled cloths are used in polishing, while stones and mineral-based compounds are the types of abrasives used in metal grinding operations. Counsel argues that because the abrasive compound used consists of a combination of alumina-based corundum and silicon carbide, the process performed on the merchandise cannot be considered polishing. However, ASM Metals Handbook, 8th ed., Vol.2 at page 371, states that "[e]mery and corundum are the natural abrasives used on polishing wheels. . .."and that "[a]luminum oxide and silicon carbide are the most widely used artificial abrasives" for polishing.


Counsel also asserts that significant amount of material is removed (76 micron meters) by the coarse grits, indicative of a grinding process. It is further claimed that polishing for reflective surface finish reduces the thickness of the material by very little.

However, the analysis conducted by Customs Headquarters laboratory indicates that "[a]brasives commonly employed in grinding operations have a grit size ranging from 20 to 120 (coarse grit). In polishing operations the abrasives used have grit size values over 150 (fine grit)." In its two-step descaling process, the manufacturer uses grit size 80 on the first roller to remove all the scale that result from the oxidation of the surface after the heat treatment. The second roller with a grit size 220 abrasive, removes the grinding lines from the first step and increases the smoothness. In the ASM Metals Handbook, 8th ed., Vol.2, pages 374-376, on polishing and buffing, it shows examples of different polishing applications. Table 4 of this chapter includes typical grit sizes of corundum used in polishing operations. For band saw steel, an 80 grit size is used in the first stage and a 150 grit size is used in the second stage. Table 6 describes the first stage as a roughing operation (i.e., grinding) and the second stage as a polishing operation.


The fourth argument made by counsel deals with speed/surface coverage. Counsel states that by comparing the average coated- wheel polishing operation (the polisher covers 38.3 meters of material in one second) with the manufacturer's line speed of 10 meters per minute or 0.166 meter ground per second, it is clear that the process is merely grinding. However, it is our understanding based upon laboratory analysis that the "speeds associated with a particular grinding and/or polishing procedure depend on the shape and design of the workpiece, the type of metal of which it is made and its surface condition. It is very difficult to compare grinding and polishing speeds of different manufacturing processes. . . .Line speed (table speed) is not synonymous with grinding or polishing speed (roller speed). Roller speeds are commonly given in sfm (surface feet per minute) and have values between 3000 to 8000 sfm."


Counsel also argues that the purpose of the operation is mechanical descaling and not polishing. They claim only the oxide scale formed during heat treatment is removed and that the surface after mechanical descaling is rougher than the surface at the cold-rolled stage. Counsel defines polishing as the means to improve the appearance of the material. We believe that polishing is better described as an operation employing the use of abrasives for the removal or smoothing of grinding lines, scratches, and other surface defects that adversely affects the appearance or function of a steel product. Polishing increases smoothness and also produces, in some materials, an increase in brightness and luster of the product. However, polishing is not synonymous with brightness or luster.


Another argument counsel makes is that the material cannot be considered polished because there is no finish code specified for or assigned to alloy steel. We believe that the lack of a finish code for band saw steel does not imply that the product was not ground and/or polished. It merely implies that the sellers and buyers of band saw steel market their product using other parameters such as hardness, nickel content, size range (width and thickness), or tensile strength.


The final argument that counsel makes is that the material's surface roughness increased after roll-grinding in comparison to its surface prior to heat treatment. However, this argument is not persuasive because it does not compare similar products. A cold-rolled strip is not the same as a cold-rolled strip that has been heat treated. The surface roughness of the steel increases dramatically with heat treatment. The subsequent two-step process of grinding and polishing produces the required roughness and smoothness in wood band saw steel.

In addition, a sample of the subject material was taken along with three samples of wood band saw steel from different manufacturers (Sandvik, Trefil Arbed and Uddeholm) from the same end-user. The subject steel strips were compared to the other three samples by optical and scanning emission microscopy. The roughness of each sample was measured by profilometry, a technique which moves a stylus across irregularities on the surface, and measures and records the amplitude of the movement. This test indicated that all four samples are approximately equally "smooth". The manufacturers of the other three samples all indicate that their product is polished. Because the subject steel strip is as equally "smooth" as the three samples, we believe it is polished.

Based upon the two-step process of grinding and polishing, we conclude that the material; flat-rolled products of other alloy steel, of a width of less than 300 mm, has been "further worked" as defined by Additional U.S. Note 2 to Chapter 72. Accordingly, the proper classification of the subject wood band saw steel is under subheading 7226.99.00, HTSUS, which provides for "[f]lat-rolled products of other ally steel, of a width of less than 600mm: [o]ther:. . .[o]ther."

In PC 859260, dated February 13, 1991, the District Director of Customs in Detroit, Michigan, provided Uddeholm Corporation pre-entry classification advice in regards to wood band saw steel, a flat-rolled product of other alloy steel, of a width of less than 300 mm, and a thickness exceeding 0.25 mm. PC 859260 stated that this product would be classifiable under subheading 7226.92.80, HTSUS. Based upon the above analysis, we believe that the proper classification of the wood band saw steel imported by Uddeholm is under subheading 7226.99.00, HTSUS.


The wood band saw steel is classifiable under subheading 7226.99.00, HTSUS, which provides for: "[f]lat-rolled products of other alloy steel, of a width of less than 600mm: [o]ther: . . .[o]ther." The general, column one rate of duty is 6.3 percent ad valorem.

Please furnish a copy of this ruling to the internal advice applicant.


PC 859260, dated February 13,1991, no longer reflects the position of Customs Service and has been modified pursuant to section 177.9(d) of the Customs Regulations [19 CFR 177.9(d)]. See the enclosed copy of HQ 953046 of this date.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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