A Tour of a Steel Mill
High Strength Steel
If you have never experienced the wonder of a steel plate mill, you are missing out. The manufacturing of steel is a fascinating process that starts with the melting of the steel into ingots and ends with the completed steel plate, which is used for a variety of uses, from building construction, to road work, to ship-making. Travel along with this virtual journal of steel plate manufactures to discover just how steel plates are created.
Scrap steel is melted down to create the ingots that will eventually turn into steel plates. The scrap is melted in a blast furnace or in an electric furnace, depending on the factory. When the scrap is melted and mixed, the factory may add additional metal to change the consistency of the metal. After melting, the metal is poured into ingot molds and allowed to cool.
Ingots are placed into a forge that flattens the metal by applying great pressure. Some factories heat the metal before expanding, while others keep the steel cold. Cold and hot pressed steel offers different properties in the finished slabs. After forging, the ingots are stretched into a slab-length rectangle.
The slabs travel through a heater to make them pliable and ready to roll to a new size. Some steel mills skill the heating process and complete a cold roll to expand the metal.
Rollers stretch the metal to the desired thickness and width. Most steel slabs are thinner than 3 inches. The size of the finished plate will vary by factory.
Heavy-duty metal cutters cut the steel plates into the desired shape. Depending on the factory, the finished shape can be rectangular, square, round, or a customized shape. After cutting, the metal is cooled to retain the shape.
After cooling, the metal receives a final treatment. This could be a galvanized coating, another chemical rinse, paint, or some other coating desired by the customer. Different factories will apply different coatings to the metal. After the metal is dry, it is shipped off to the customer.