Steel is produced using a blast furnace or an electric arc furnace. A blast furnace is used when producing steel from iron oxides. Blast furnaces can be traced as far back as the 14th century and were used to produce one tonne of steel per day. Yes, the equipment has improved to ensure higher production rates. However, the production process remains the same. As experts at Waco Kwikform explain, a blast furnace used iron ore, coke and limestone to produce pig iron. Coal is an integral part of the production process of coke. Coal is crushed then ground into powder before being discharged into an oven. Here, it is heated to a temperature of 1800 degrees Fahrenheit without oxygen present.
As the oven heats up, the coal starts melting. Therefore, volatile matter such as tar, oil, nitrogen, hydrogen and sulphur will be removed. Coke (the cooked coal) is then removed from the oven after 18-24 hours of reaction time. It is then cooled and screened into smaller pieces (1-4 inches). Coke is a porous and hard black rock made up of concentrated carbon. It contains 90-93% of carbon, ash and sulphur (stronger compared to raw coal.) The stronger pieces of coke have a high energy value. Therefore, they provide permeability, heat and gasses that are used to melt the iron ore, sinter and pellets.
The first EAFs (electric arc furnaces) were introduced in the late 19th century. Currently, they are continuously used in various steel manufacturing industries accounting for at least two-thirds of steel production in the United States. EAFs are different from blast furnaces since they produce steel using an electrical current that melts the scrap steel or direct reduced iron. These furnaces use scrap steel and electricity to ensure the production of molten steel.
The most common uses of stainless steel include the following.
1. Architecture and Construction
During the art-deco period, stainless steel was first introduced in the construction niche. For example, the upper part of the Chrysler Building was constructed using stainless steel. It is a flexible and strong material that is also resistant to corrosion. That’s why stainless steel is commonly used in most construction projects. It is often used in the exterior cladding of large high impact buildings. It is also used in the interiors such as handrails, backsplashes and countertops.
Stainless steel can be welded easily and has a very attractive finish. It is also a very low maintenance material. As a result, it is often featured in high-profile architecture, especially the Eurostar Terminal in Waterloo Station in London. It is also featured in the Helix Bridge in Singapore and the One World Trade Centre in New York. Sustainable building plans also include stainless steel that comprises 90% recycled metal. When used with a polished or grain finish, stainless steel allows natural light in a building thereby reducing energy consumption.
2. Automotive and Transportation
In the automotive industry, steel was first introduced in the 1930s, thanks to the Ford Motor Company. It was used to make various concept cars. Currently, there is an increased use of stainless steel in the automotive industry. It was previously used in trim and grills as well as car exhaust systems. However, with the environmental concerns and new emission reduction standards, car manufacturers have also started using stainless steel in structural components.
It is also used in different forms of transportation such as road tankers, ship containers and refuse vehicles. It is perfect for vehicles used to transport liquids, chemicals and food products. Stainless steel is a very strong material that is perfect for thinner containers thereby saving fuel costs. On the other hand, corrosion resistance ensures lower maintenance and cleaning costs.
3. Medical Uses
Stainless steel is perfect for sterilized environments since the material can be sterilized easily and is also resistant to corrosion. It is used to construct dental and surgical instruments, operating tables and kidney dishes. It is also used for the construction of steam sterilizers, cannulas and MRI scanners. Stainless steel is also used on surgical implants and replacement joints like artificial hips. Pins and plates made out of stainless steel are used to fix broken bones too.
If you are looking for the right steel forging process, you may find closed die forgings as an option for you. The closed die is a steel forging process in which dies move towards each other which impact the top die on the raw material forms into the required forged form. Contact us today if you need more info.