A cork, muselet, and drops of champagne shoot out of a brown bottle of champagne with a golden wrap covering the neck and a round logo at the bottom of the foil.

The Dynamism of the Steel Industry

200-foot-tall turbines on the high seas, a millimetrically sharp surgical tool on an operation table, roller coaster tracks in a Disney theme park: these are just some of the things that require the extreme strength and durability of steel. This great metal, a builder of society, has found itself in an endless assortment of odd-jobs.

Here are some phrases used to describe steel as it wears a particular “hat” on a jobsite. Can you match the job with the description of the steel?

Jobs:

  1. Rockstar
  2. Olympic Champion
  3. Zip Line
  4. Guard of Ancient Manuscripts
  5. Fashion Model

 

Description

  • “These cases offer superb mechanical protection in the event of impact. They also have indefinite endurance and are unaffected by low humidity and retains their structure.”
  • “The complicated series of cycles of high precision cold rolling and annealing down to these ultra-thin gauges that is required to produce this kind of steel which is thinner than silkworm silk.”
  • “The strings in turn become magnets themselves, with their magnetic field in alignment with the permanent magnet.”
  • “This in turn preserves the alloy’s amazing impact strength, ductility and toughness.”
  • “With steel, you can do beautiful architectural things and at the same time easily comply with demanding structural requirements.”

Answers:

A. Rockstar -“The strings in turn become magnets themselves, with their magnetic field in alignment with the permanent magnet.” (from “How Steel Helped Usher in the Era of Rock and Roll,” by Rob Coppinger, worldsteel.org)

It’s impossible to imagine the Western world without rock and roll. Magnetized steel guitar strings were the progenitor to this head thumping, body-moving music. The steel strings transmit their movement to a permanent magnet that, in turn, transmits the movement as an electric signal. Steel has been in front of packed stadiums of audiences jamming to the best hits of our time.

The dark silhouettes of the back of heads and some raised arms as a crowd of people look towards a brightly lit stage where multiple spotlights point in different directions showing the dark silhouette of two long-haired figures playing guitars.B. Olympic Champion – “This, in turn, preserves the alloy’s amazing impact strength, ductility and toughness.” (from “Maraging Steel Delivers World’s Finest Fencing Blades,” by Rebecca Pool, worldsteel.org)

In an inherently dangerous sport that simulates armed combat, nothing is more important than the use of a trustworthy metal. That’s why steel is the metal of choice for all fencing champions. Fencers wield their flexible, strong, and reliable steel foils, combining grace and power to attack, feint, and lunge at their opponents.

 In front of a black background in which can be seen the silhouettes of a few audience members, two fencers dressed in white protective clothing and black fencing masks execute fencing offensive and defensive moves; the one on the right lunges forward with his or her right armed completely outstretched and her sword bends upward upon contacting the neck area of the opponent, and the one on the left stands straight with legs apart, left hand in the air and the right stretched forward with the sword, which is bent downward upon contact with the opponent’s neck.

C. Zip Line – “With steel, you can do beautiful architectural things and at the same time easily comply with demanding structural requirements.” (from “World’s Longest Zipline Built on Steel,” by Ryan McMurtry, worldsteel.org)

People are rarely convinced to fly out of town for a thrill-ride, just to turn around and fly home. However, if you go to a breathtaking desert landscape and attach the longest zipline in the world to a nine-ton landing pad that hangs in the air, suspended by steel cables, you are sure to get visitors from all over the world. This is exactly what you can find in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Jabel Jais Flight zipline is a 2,831.88m long zipline that whizzes visitors across the desert at 150KM/H, and then drops them at the other end, atop of a floating platform. All of this, made possible by steel.

Suspended in the air underneath a stretched white canvas and an ornate white canvas hanging from the side, hangs a floating platform with a wooden floor and steel frame with four figures standing on the platform behind a black railing.

D. Guard of Ancient Manuscripts – “These cases offer superb mechanical protection in the event of impact. They also have indefinite endurance and areunaffected by low humidity and retain their structure.” (from “Stainless Steel Cases Safeguard Ancient Manuscripts,” by Desmond Hinton-Beales, worldsteel.org)

The preservation of thousand-year old manuscripts written on calf-skin paper takes a rare combination of delicacy and strength. These historically important documents that connect humanity with its distant past are kept in St. Catherine’s Monastery in Mount Sinai, Egypt. The Saint Catherine Foundation commissioned the creation of specially designed stainless-steel boxes that guarantee the continued survival of these invaluable documents contained in the library.

 A metal drawer pulled out of a chest of drawers sits on top of a wooden surface, and the drawer consist of a shiny surface, a sturdy handle, and a space to place documents – in this case an old, thick manuscript.E. Fashion Model -“A complicated series of cycles of high precision cold rolling and annealing down to these ultra-thin gauges that is required to produce this kind of steel which is thinner than silkworm silk.” (from “Steel Steps onto the Catwalk,” by Abi Grogan, worldsteel.org)

Fashion leader Naim Josefi, ever at the forefront of designer fashion, created a 6,000-piece dress from rolled steel sequins. With it, Josefi not only designed a beautiful dress worn by Bahar Pars to the Oscars in 2017, but he also set an example as to how the fashion industry can create less “disposable” styles. Josefi proves that fashion can be sustainable, long lasting, and recyclable. Is there better material than steel for this message?

On a red carpet surrounded by people in suits and long dresses, underneath a glass ceiling with golden beam, an actress looks over her shoulder at the camera; she is sporting a long black dress with a veil train that has a shiny metallic section in the middle and opens up to bare shoulders and back.

The Continued Presence of Steel in our Lives

As time rolls on, the global steel industry continues usher us into the future, and every new year – literally.  So far, we’ve talked about a few exotic ways that steel has quietly become omnipresent in our daily lives. However, a more mundane job of steel is to provide the characteristic “pop” of champagne at every New Year’s Eve celebration.

Champagne makers, very much aware of the importance of maintaining the bubbly texture that makes their product unique, have long experimented with the best way to package the champagne.

The now time-tested solution comes in the form of a cork held in place by a steel cap and a steel cage known as a muselet. The steel cap ensures equal pressure along the whole top of the cork, preventing any escape of gas. The muselet holds everything in place while, at the same time, providing customers with an easy way to unfasten the mechanisms and begin the new year.

According to Georgina Hindle, in her article “How Steel is Crucial to Champagne Making” in worldsteel.org, the steel wire muselet is flexible and resilient at once: “The wire must also ‘be supple when drawn but with a tensile strength of more than 300N/mm2’ and be able to ‘withstand the pressure inside the bottle which is measured at six bar or between five and six atmospheres’ – twice as high as in a tyre and the equivalent to over 5kg of weight on every square centimetre of glass. This translates to the potential cork expulsion of a vigorously shaken bottle of Champagne at 40km per hour and theoretically up to 100km per hour for an un-shaken bottle left out in the sun – a fact discovered by German scientist Friedrich Balck of Clausthal University of Technology who registered the speed in 2008.”

The low-carbon steel used in muselets meets all the requirements of a champagne bottle: it’s strong, long-lasting, anti-corrosive, and hygienic. And, in an industry where one company alone produces more than 307 million bottles in one year, it’s essential to use an inexpensive material, like steel, rather than expensive materials, like copper or brass.

Without a doubt, muselets have become an integral part of global culture, and thus the dynamism of the global steel industry.

Regardless of whether or not champagne was part of your ringing in the new year, National Material of Mexico thanks you for your support and wishes the best for you and your family this coming year.

About National Material L.P. – National Material L.P. (“NMLP”) and its affiliates have a long history of quality and service dating back to 1964. Since its founding, the company has grown to over 30 business units and is now one of the largest privately held suppliers of metal related products in North America. NMLP currently consists of the Steel Group, Stainless and Alloys Group, Raw Material Trading Group, Aluminum Group, and Related Operations.