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Learn How Steel Is Made From Greenville Steel

From Pig Iron To Finished Product: Learn How Steel Is Made From Greenville Steel

Steel is a mighty material used to make so many things in our world. From cars, boats and planes to tools, forks and knives to homes, buildings and bridges, modern life is built on steel. That's why Greenville Steel is making the highest quality steel available to individuals, contractors, manufacturers and factories across the Dallas area and throughout our great nation! Below, we go into detail about how steel is made. While the process is always changing in subtle ways to improve efficiency and make the steel making process more environmentally friendly, steelmaking always involves these five steps.


Step 1: The Necessary Materials

The making of steel always starts with three things: iron, coke and limestone.

Raw iron ore is unearthed at the mines and processed into small chunks, then delivered to the steel mill where the steel-making process really begins. Coal is also delivered to the mill, where it is turned into a substance known as coke. By baking the coal in super hot, airtight ovens, coke is formed, which is essentially pure carbon. Coke burns more completely and more efficiently than raw coal, making it more desirable for the steel-making process. Finally, limestone must also be added to help make the slag that removes impurities from the final product.

Step 2: Into The Furnace

While creating pig iron in a blast furnace is a centuries-old process, modern blast furnaces are huge structures that make this process simpler, cleaner and much, much faster. A modern blast furnace may be more than 300 feet tall and can create more than 10,000 tons of liquid iron each day!

At the top of these furnaces, iron, coke and limestone are all piled inside in a precise ratio. Hot air is pumped into the bottom of the furnace, superheating the coke and causing the iron to liquify and become a glowing, molten metal, also called "pig iron." The pig iron flows toward the bottom of the furnace, while the limestone draws impurities away from the liquid metal. The resulting substance is called "slag." Slag used to be an undesirable byproduct of the steelmaking process, but now it has all sorts of industrial and commercial uses, from brickmaking and paving to even being used as fertilizer.


Step 3: Refinement

Once the liquid iron has been separated from the ore, it must be further refined into steel. There is too much carbon in the liquid iron compared to what you want for steel. So, at the steel mill, hot liquid iron is moved into giant metal buckets called ladles. Sulfur is added, drawing out even more impurities which rise to the top. Often with the help of robots, the slag is skimmed from the top of the molten iron ladles.

Next, the molten iron is added to an oxygen furnace. An oxygen lance, like a great metal straw, adds pure oxygen to the superheated iron, causing a chemical reaction that reduces the level of carbon in the product -- transforming it from molten iron into molten steel. This is also where alloys like nickel, magnesium and molybdenum are added to increase the strength, hardness or corrosion resistance of the final product.

Step 4: Cutting & Shaping (Cold Rolled Steel vs. Hot Rolled Steel)

Once the liquid steel reaches the desired chemical make-up, it must be cast into huge steel slabs or billets. The machines that create these large slabs of red-hot steel lay down a continuous flow of steel. Special gas torches can cut the segments to the desired shape and size, based on what the final product will become.

Next, the steel slabs can be shaped into the final product by hot and/or cold rolling. Hot rolling means the steel is heated before it enters the mill to be shaped, making it easier to work into more radically different shapes. However, the final product may not be made to the most exacting tolerances, as hot-rolled steel expands and contracts as it changes temperature.

Cold rolled steel becomes harder when worked, because the metal isn't heated before working. Because the product doesn't expand and contract when being formed, the end product can be made to extremely tight tolerances. Cold rolled steel is a great choice when you need a precise fit, but cold rolled steel tends to be more expensive than a similar piece of hot rolled steel. Most cold rolled steel has also been hot rolled, and is then cold rolled to create the most precise finish and shape.

Step 5: Distribution

It's at this stage that you'll find all the steel in our inventory at Greenville Steel -- cut, formed and made available to you in all sorts of common shapes and sizes. We can also cut custom orders, so give us a call to find out what kinds of steel product we can make for you. And since we can deliver even the largest steel orders across the state of Texas and even beyond, Greenville Steel is ready to fulfill your steel order, anywhere in the country, large or small.

If you're not sure what kind of steel is right for your project, don't hesitate to give us a call! Speak with one of our knowledgeable product experts. We can help you find the right steel for you.

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