Steel processing involves taking steel products and modifying them to meet a customer’s specific needs. This can include anything from cutting the steel to the desired shape and size to adding special coatings or finishes to the steel. The steel processing industry is a vital part of the overall steel industry and plays a crucial role in ensuring that steel products meet the highest standards before they are sold to customers.
Melting and Casting
Stainless steel is made by melting various raw materials, such as iron ore, silicon, chromium, and nickel, in a super-hot furnace. The molten liquid is then cast into various shapes, including blooms, billets, rods, tubes, or slabs. The chromium in stainless steel forms a thin layer of oxide on the surface of the metal, which protects it from corrosion. Stainless steel is used in various applications, including cookware, cutlery, and surgical instruments.
The metal is melted and cast, but it isn’t stainless steel. It now has to go through a forming process. First, it is hot rolled. This means the casts are heated and then pushed through huge rollers. Billets and blooms, for example, are formed into wire and bar, respectively, while slabs are formed into plates, sheets, and strips. The rollers themselves can be adjusted depending on the thickness required.
It must undergo annealing to remove any internal stresses in the newly formed metal. This process involves heating the metal back up but cooling it under specific conditions. The temperature must be closely monitored because any slight change could result in a weaker piece of metal. The rate of heating and cooling can also produce different grades of metal. For example, lower annealing temperatures produce a high-strength metal but lower resilience to fracture. Alternatively, higher heating and faster cooling promote a lower-strength metal with better resilience to fracturing.
The annealing process is used to heat newly-manufactured steel to remove any scale or surface build-up that may have formed during the manufacturing process. This build-up can be removed using pickling (using an acid bath) or electro-cleaning (applying an electric current).
The cleaned metal is cut into various lengths and sizes using large cutting machines. Metal can be cut using circular shearing, guillotining, sawing, punching, and nibbling. Nibbling is a process where a series of overlapping holes are punched out and is ideal for irregularly shaped metals.
The final part of the process is finishing, which can involve different treatments depending on the intended use of the metal. For example, metals used for sanitary purposes may require a smooth, glass-like surface to make them easier to clean. Abrasive finishes may be required in some circumstances to help with lubrication, particularly for factory machinery.
A steel processor is responsible for various tasks, including preparing the steel for use, fabricating steel products, and assembling steel structures. Steel processors must have a strong understanding of the properties of steel and the various manufacturing processes. They must also be able to operate heavy machinery and work in potentially hazardous environments safely.
KGS Steel Birmingham is a full-line structural steel and carbon steel service center warehouse that has been servicing the southeastern United States since 1985. We offer a full line of carbon steel products and processing with the quality, commitment, and services that are demanded by today’s industrial sector. If you’re looking for a steel processor in Birmingham, AL, get in touch with us today!