Understanding the Principles of Steel Manufacturing
Mankind have been relying on metal for millennia now – from early weaponry, all the way to tools and everything in between. The way in which we mine for metal hasn’t changed – after all metal ore will always need to be harvested and siphoned from deep underground within rich veins. Over the past few decades however, the things that we’ve been able to do with metal have changed. These days iron is rarely used on its own and during the forging process, it’s not uncommon for other types of metal to be introduced for a multitude of reasons.
As these metals are introduced, their unique chemical compositions react; allowing the formula to take on a new structure. Steel just so happens to be made when one of these reactions occur – namely when iron and carbon are introduced. Unlike iron, which can be brittle and heavy, and dissimilarly to carbon too, which is prone to crumbling over time – steel eliminates the weakness of both of these materials.
Steel manufacturing is now one of the most popular methods of metal working and the higher quality the iron and carbon, the stronger the steel. This resultant metal is incredibly versatile; being ideal for use within structures, furnishings and even vehicles. Its unique composition allows it to be as pliable during heating as it is resilient to damage – but this is merely a generalisation, as steel can be modified to suit a variety of purposes.
The power of steel
If there’s one thing that steel is recognised for, it is its strength. The finely moulded fibres that are present within every single sheet of steel can be heated and re-heated time and again; and with each heating the metal will grow stronger as the molecules are further solidified. Therefore it is entirely possible to create softer steel, the likes of which can be seen supporting bridges in the form of cables – with the strongest type helping to support huge structures and vehicles.
In order to create steel, a variety of industrial tools and facilities are required; especially when creating sheets or structures in bulk. These tasks are very involved and they require consistent monitoring to ensure that the steel is free from blemishes and usable for its purpose. As a result, entire factory floors can be dedicated to the manufacture of steel, with huge heating arcs being the most traditional sight.
All individual materials are collated and treated, before being super-heated within large furnaces not too dissimilar from ovens. When a particular temperature is reached, the compounds will begin to break down and take on a new form – that of liquid. It’s when in this state that the compounds can be introduced, mixed and then poured into a mould for setting.
In the past, this process often took days, if not weeks of consistent heating. These days however, and thanks to the latest advances in technology, the best steel manufacture companies can create tonnes within a matter of days – all of which can be put to immediate use and carries a very affordable price tag compared to other metals.