The Process of Steel Manufacturing Explained

Blog | January 10th, 2019

Steel manufacturing technology shifts tons of the tough alloy through busy workshops at breakneck speed. First, the raw material is extracted from the ground and purified. That primary stream blends with recycled materials, then it enters a super-heated work area, where BOS furnaces and their EAF counterparts turn steel into fiery molten pools. Rolled and cast, the solidified steel ingots, sheets, and beams are ready to enter the manufacturing process.

Stepping Back to Get Perspective

Pre-treatment and post-treatment threads lay outside the focus of this article. They carbon strengthen steel and manipulate its microcrystalline structure. Exhaustively conducted as demanded by a specified application or industry, the metal is hardened and made rust resistant, then tempered and made ready to support extraordinarily heavy loads. In the manufacturing sector, a healthy measure of workpiece malleability is also favoured, as well as the above material characteristics. Incidentally, if a manufacturing process does introduce work hardened stress to a workpiece, there are heat treatment options available, which are designed to correct such issues.

Prepping the Factory for a New Product Line

The sourcing department receives news of a new project. A client product has been specced and placed in the system. A prototype is to be manufactured first. Let’s select a steel family that satisfies the prototype specs. The tooling stage proceeds apace as the materials are called in as sheet metal and cast parts. Impacted directly by the hardness and overall density of the selected steel grade, tungsten carbide tools are fitted, bending machine pressures and turning radii configured, and welding techniques tweaked so that the correct metal fillers and shielding gases are ready for action. With the tools and processing stations prepped, the manufacturing work commences.

The Steel Manufacturing Process Explained

Like any other complex sequence, the stages can be broken down into discrete processing steps. The forging installation, located way back, employed BOS (Basic Oxygen Steelmaking) equipment as a carbon infusing mechanism. Alternatively, EAS (Electric Arc Furnaces) produced massive crucibles full of recycled steel parts. The machining work snaps into action when the sheets and beams created by the forges arrive. They raise a ruckus as the workpieces are formed and assembled, drilled and welded together. Essentially, massive bending and cutting machines crouch at one end of the floor while 5 and 6-axis CNC machines and milling equipment await their output.

Deposited as repeatedly processed products, the goal is to add high-tolerance dimensional outlines and complex geometries to what was originally a raw hunk of unprocessed steel. From here, the post-manufacturing work polishes and refines the parts. They’re heat treated and galvanized, then coated with application-specific protective finishes. Finally, tested and commissioned, the products are sent off to be installed according to some nationally or internationally regulated set of installation guidelines.

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