National Material of Mexico’s steel processing plant in Monterrey featuring the Red Bud Slitter, known for its ability to process advanced high-strength steels. Coils of packaged rolls of steel are in the foreground and background, with the focus on the impressive, bright red steel slitting line.


Steel has undertaken many tasks, each more impressive than the last. Beginning with being crafted into legendary swords, steel has subsequently traversed the Atlantic Ocean as a telegraph wire, moved masses along rail lines, and conquered city skylines, changing our cultural landscapes forever.

A long steel railroad can be seen stretching far into the distance, running through green fields and medium sized trees.


Steel’s most impressive feat, however, may be its dominance of paradoxes. Steel is both ancient and modern. It is practically unchanged in composition, and yet there are more than 3,500 different grades. It is ubiquitous in our society, and yet goes by largely unnoticed.


Recently at the Great Designs in Steel convention, the best leaders from universities and business came together. The most imperative question at the event had to do with the latest paradox that steel has been conquering: How can we create thinner, lighter material that’s also stronger than ever before?


One of the most astonishing successes in recent decades in creating lighter-weighting steel has been the introduction and industrial acceptance of advanced high-strength steel (AHSS). This categorization generally applies to steels with tensile strengths of 500 to 1800 Megapascals (MPa) and yield strengths higher than 550 MPa. The primary AHSS grades are produced on high tech continuous annealing lines that provide very high heat followed by a rapid-controlled cooling rate of the austenite phase. Further controlled heating and cooling can then take place depending on the desired properties.


Why are lightweight steels like AHSS in such demand? One of the main impulses for lightweighting steel comes from automotive manufacturers. In order to meet the new U.S. guidelines, they must improve automobile fuel efficiency from 27.5 miles per gallon to 54.4 miles by the year 2025. This pattern of increased regulations is mirrored across the globe.


As the technology continues to develop, the applications for AHSS in automobiles continue to expand. Crash safety with advanced high-strength steels continues to increase; as well as increased engine performance, and top speeds, which are a result of the reduced weight. Additionally, its cost effectiveness makes it an attractive material for structure parts, as well as bumper systems, seating, doors, and other safety parts.


Subsequently, steel processing companies such as National Material of Mexico have revamped their operations, introducing slitters that are specifically designed for AHSS slitting. National Material recently upgraded their facilities with a Red Bud 72” (1830mm) wide slitting line with in-line leveling that has a thickness range of .012” – .250” and is capable of slitting grades up to 250,000 psi (1725 MPa) – an upgrade that was made with servicing the advanced high-strength steel market in mind.


With industries thirsty for the AHSS that will make their products greener and leaner, Mexican steel industry giants like NMM continue their tradition of quality steel service in revamped facilities geared especially for AHSS cut-to-length processing. 


A clean and organized automotive manufacturing plant with a line of cars raised up on lifts running in between steel columns on a shiny factory floor.


About National Material Limited Partnership: About NMLP – Since its founding in 1964, National Material Limited Partnership has grown to over 30 business units and is now one of the largest suppliers of steel in the United States. The National Material group of industrial businesses consists of the Steel Group, Stainless and Alloys Group, Raw Material Trading Group, Aluminum Group, and Related Operations.


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