Exploring Automated Systems For Industrial Applications

How Is Steel Made?

Steel is used in everything from silverware to skyscrapers. Without steel, many of the things that we take for granted wouldn't be around or would be in a much different form. But, do you know how steel is made?

Composition

Steel is primarily composed of iron, that's what makes it magnetic. However, depending on the kind of steel, other metals may also be included. Those include metals such as manganese, tungsten, and nickel. It also has at least some carbon. The carbon content needs to be very carefully monitored, because too much carbon will make it brittle but too little carbon will make the steel too soft. Iron has some naturally occurring carbon, but the steel being made may need to have more added.

The fact that steel is made up of more than one metal makes it an alloy. The additional metals are added to make the steel harder, stronger, or give it other specific qualities. For example, when chromium is added to steel, the resulting product is stainless steel, which is resistant to rust. 

Production

The first part of producing steel, excluding the ore being mined, is refining the metal ore. Ore can't be used straight from the ground; it will contain impurities that could weaken the metal. The refining process involves putting the iron ore into a blazing hot furnace. The temperature in these furnaces is in the thousands of degrees. In the past, the furnaces have been blast furnaces, but many refineries use oxygen furnaces.

In a blast furnaces, the iron ore is melted down and the impurities gather at the top. Those impurities can then be scraped and scooped off the top of the molten iron. In an oxygen furnace, the iron ore is still melted down, but instead of scooping out the impurities, blasts of pure oxygen are sent through the molten metal, which carry away the impurities. 

At the this stage, any other metals are added into the mix. They get added in very specific proportions. The resulting steel can then be poured into its finished shape or it can be poured and cooled into ingots, which are then sent on to the factories which will use those ingots to produce car parts, silverware, girders, and even jewelry. 

Steel is used in almost everything. Without steel, crossing the world at current speeds would be nearly impossible, skyscrapers wouldn't exist, and your car wouldn't be safe. 

For any steel and iron work needs, contact a professional company, like Woodbridge Steel Ltd.


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