How Steel is Made

How Steel is Made

 

We can categorize types of metal into 2 categories: ferrous and non-ferrous. Ferrous comes from, or contains iron, while non-ferrous does not contain iron. Examples of ferrous metals would be mild steel, cast iron, high strength steel and tool steels while examples of non-ferrous metals would be copper, aluminium, magnesium, titanium and the like.

Considered to be the most widely used metals in the world, steel is cheap, strong and incredibly versatile. With worldwide production running at approximately 750 million tonnes per year, steel is the second mass-produced commodity next to cement.

Steel requires relatively little energy to produce and is completely recyclable. With the extensive efforts by the steel industry, energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions are less than half of what they were in the 1960s. This makes steel environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Steel is everywhere! From railroads to pipelines to bridges. You can almost make everything with it that’s why metal fabrication is a fast growing industry today.

 

HISTORY

Making up more than 5% of the earth’s crust, iron is the fourth most abundant element. Production of iron started in around 2000 BC in south-west or south-central Asia. This saw the widespread replacement of bronze with iron for tools and weapons and marked the beginning of the Iron Age. Wrought iron was produced by blacksmiths who would heat the iron and hammer out impurities over an anvil during this era and the resulting iron was tough but malleable.

During the Middle Ages, with the use of higher temperatures, a new type of iron was developed and this was known as cast iron which was harder than wrought but more brittle.

For over three thousand years, iron formed the material basis of human civilization until the mass production of steel in 1870 AD.

 

WHAT IS STEEL COMPOSED OF?

All the steel alloys are primarily iron and 0.002-2.1% carbon by weight. Carbon bonds with iron to create a strong molecular structure. The resulting lattice microstructure helps achieve certain material properties, like tensile strength and hardness that we rely on in steel and perfect for metal fabrication.

Different types of steel contain different percentages of each element although steel is made of iron and carbon. It can also include other elements like nickel, manganese, titanium, cobalt and many more. Adding different elements to make steel alloy affects its material properties. The method of manufacture and treatment of steel further enhances those abilities.

All alloys are known commonly as stainless steel if a steel alloys contain chromium which is a different group of steel alloys.

 

 

HOW IS IT MADE?

The basic process is by mixing carbon and iron at very high temperatures, commonly above 1500°C.

 

Primary steelmaking

This creates steel from a product call “pig iron.” The Pig iron is smelted iron, from ore, which contains more carbon than is correct for steel.

A system that bubbles oxygen through melting pig iron is used by the steelmaker. This process creates equal oxidation throughout the molten metal. Oxidation removes carbon. Elements like silicon, phosphorus and manganese are also vaporized or bonded impurities.

 

Secondary steelmaking

This is done “in the ladle”. It is a process of refining and alloying steel. It is either started by melting scrap or continues a primary process. Elements can be added to get a specific alloy. Surface impurities can also be removed. The ladle is heated and cooled to the temperatures needed for the necessary chemical process.

 

PROPERTIES OF STEEL

A lot of fabrication projects are more often times with the use of steel because of its specific properties combined with its relative low cost.

 

Hardness. Steel can resist indention when pressed with gradually increasing pressure.

Toughness. This describes how far it goes before fracturing, although the material does deform.

Yield strength. It can be gradually pressed with increasing pressure but it has great resistance to indentation.

Tensile strength. It has the ability to withstand being pulled before breaking.

Malleability. Steel can shaped by hammering or pressing without breaking.

Ductility. Steel has the ability to be shaped without losing toughness.

 

TYPES OF STEEL

These are the four major groupings of steel alloys:

 

  1. Carbon Steel – vary mostly by hardness and ductility. Low carbon steels tend to be more ductile compared to other steel but also offer lower hardness. On the other hand, high carbon steels are harder but usually has lower ductility.
  2. 2. Tool Steel – heat treated and quenched to superior harndness are used for tool steels but can be added with other elements like tungsten, vanadium or molybdenum.
  3. Alloy Steel – this type of steel are generally mixed with specific elements for extraordinary material properties. All steels are alloys and have extra elements added to them but alloy steel are unusual steel built for a specific application.
  4. Stainless Steel – rust resistant because it is alloyed with chromium. This is the best type of steel for metal fabrication and is mostly used for steel fabrication and installation.

 

METAL FABRICATION

Metal fabrication is the creation of metal products by cutting, bending and assembling. The steel industry leans more towards metal fabrication with the use of stainless steel as products are easily made with lower costs yet built to last for years. If you are planning to have a metal fabrication project done, try to contact Ferrum, a trusted company with years of experience in steel fabrication in Sydney and are the best steel fabricators in Sydney as well.

The uses of steel have evolved since it has been discovered and optimized thousands of years ago. Today, with the modernization of everything, steel projects have been made easier. You can even select various types of what you want to use to make sure it perfectly fits your needs. When considering for a steel fabrication project make sure to rely on experts like Ferrum who has been in the industry long enough to make small, big or customized projects.

 

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