What Shaped the Modern Steel Processing Industry?
The development of steel can be traced back to the beginning of the Iron Age, roughly 550 B.C.E., when iron began to displace bronze in weaponry and tools because it was stronger and harder. The invention of steel came about when early metallurgists discovered that iron becomes more durable when left in charcoal furnaces.
Various developments in steel making and steel processing emerged over time due to various market demands. For the most part, early demands for steel were for military and defense. During the Roman Era, the imperial armies wanted steel for durable weapons and armor. In the 11th century, Middle Eastern metallurgists made swords. The demand for iron was not strictly limited to military purposes, it was also used in the construction of sacred monuments. For example, the Iron Pillar of Delhi, forged by welded pieces of wrought iron, is aged at 1600 years old. It’s the oldest surviving example of corrosion-resistant steel, a testimony to the high level of skill achieved by the ancient Indian ironsmiths in the extraction and processing of iron.
It was in the 18th and 19th centuries that demand arose for mass-produced steel making and steel processing. The development of steam engines meant that steel rails needed to be built. Steam engine powered factories were introduced as a solution to this urgent need. This is heralded as the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. At this same time, John Deere invented the steel plow and mechanized farming. The Industrial Revolution sparked an increase urbanization in Europe and the demands for a more versatile, structural metal increased. Metallurgists then created most of the modern developments in steel production and steel processing that are familiar to us today, including the Bessemer Process, tungsten steel, the electric arc furnace, and continuous casting.
The Bessemer Process. Henry Bessemer developed an effective way to use oxygen to reduce the carbon content in iron. Now known as the Bessemer Process, Bessemer designed a pear-shaped receptacle, referred to as a “converter” in which iron could be heated while oxygen could be blown through the molten metal. As oxygen passed through the molten metal, it would react with the carbon, releasing carbon dioxide and producing a purer iron.
Tungsten Steel. Tungsten steel is a type of metal alloy made from a combination of tungsten and iron. The addition of tungsten to the alloy gives it increased hardness and resistance to heat, allowing equipment made from tungsten steel to maintain high performance and to resist wear at high temperatures. Tungsten steel is valued for its industrial uses as a tool steel and is commonly used in industrial tools and machinery used for working other metals, such as dies and cutting tools.
Electric Arc Furnace. An electric arc furnace (EAF) is a furnace that heats charged material by means of an electric arc. An electric arc furnace used for steelmaking consists of a refractory-lined vessel, usually water-cooled in larger sizes, covered with a retractable roof, and through which one or more graphite electrodes enter the furnace. The use of EAFs allows steel to be made from a 100% scrap metal feedstock. This greatly reduces the energy required to make steel when compared with primary steelmaking from ores. Another benefit is flexibility; while blast furnaces cannot vary their production by much and must remain in operation for years at a time, EAFs can be rapidly started and stopped, allowing the steel mill to vary production according to demand.
Continuous Casting. Continuous casting, also called strand casting, is the process in which molten metal is solidified into a semi-finished billet, bloom, or slab for subsequent rolling in the finishing mills. Prior to the introduction of continuous casting, steel was poured into stationary molds to form ingots. Since then, “continuous casting” has evolved to achieve improved yield, quality, productivity and cost efficiency. It allows lower-cost production of metal sections with better quality, due to the inherently lower costs of continuous, standardized production of a product, as well as providing increased control over the process through automation. This process is used most frequently to cast steel (in terms of tonnage cast). Aluminum and copper are also continuously cast.
Mexico’s Role in the Modern Steel Industry
The demand for steel has not wavered since the Industrial Revolution. In fact, the demand for steel has steadily increased. Steel is currently one of the most common materials used around the globe. Each year over 1.3 billion tons of steel is produced and is identified by various grades and standards. It is used as a major component in tools, machines, appliances, weapons, automobiles, buildings, ships, infrastructure, appliances, and much more. Steel is used in a wide number of applications in modern construction in addition to railways such as in roads, buildings, appliances, and other infrastructures. In fact, most modern structures, such as skyscrapers, stadiums, airports, and bridges, are created with a durable steel skeleton. Even structures that use concrete also use steel as a reinforcing material.
Mexico is aware of the global demand for steel and has made strides and advancements in the industry in order to remain competitive with emerging market demands. The privatization of Mexican steel in the 1990s gave the industry the benefit of more consolidated investing, which created a more competitive industry in terms of cost and quality. Since then, the steel industry in Mexico has had significant growth, with national production being somewhere between 19 and 20 million ton. Mexico’s output equals 27.7% of the steel market in Latin America and 1.13% of the steel that is placed in the international market.
Mexico’s Steel Industry Today:
- Mexico is the world’s 11th largest steel importer.
- Mexico has reached 14th worldwide as a manufacturer of steel.
- Mexico’s steel industry represents 2.2% of the national gross domestic product (GDP).
- The Mexican steel industry contributes to 12.9% of the GDP of the manufacturing industry.
- The investment of the steel industry in Mexico is approximately $385 million dollars yearly.
- The Mexican steel industry also employs 38% of all industry workers and generates 120,000 direct jobs and 600,000 indirect jobs.
*The above information was sourced from https://www.canacero.org.mx/, more specifically, https://www.canacero.org.mx/en/aceroenmexico.php. Cancero is an independent body, officially recognized by the Mexican federal government, that promotes the development of ethical, sustainable, and responsible business practices. Cancero groups the steel producing and manufacturing companies, as well as other companies closely associated with those industries.
National Material of Mexico (NMM) is proud to be a part of the Mexican steel industry. NMM is one of the largest steel service centers in Mexico serving automotive, HVAC, home appliance, motor and transformer manufacturers in Mexico. At NMM, we specialize in storage and processing of hot rolled, cold rolled, grain oriented and non-oriented electrical steel, galvanized, galvannealed, aluminized, prepainted and other coated metals. NMM excels in supply-chain management, just-in-time programs, and inventory control.
Supported by a network of 7 strategic locations between partners and wholly-owned facilities, NMM is the premiere processor in Mexico for a variety of steel products, from uncoated non-exposed to coated exposed carbon steel in slit, sheet, or blank form, in all steel grades available in the market, including all types of AHSS steel grades.
State-of-the-art slitters, cut-to-length lines, blanking lines, and warehousing capabilities, combined with an experienced and well-trained workforce, makes NMM the perfect choice to serve our customer’s needs. Strategic locations throughout Mexico offer a logistical advantage leading to more efficient service with the better use of the customer’s resources.
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NMM delivers quality products and services to our customers on time. We will continually strive to improve the quality and efficiency of our processes and services in order to provide our customers with competitive advantages and to satisfy their requirements and expectations.
Become a customer today! For more information, visit our website: http://nmm.com.mx/. You can also contact us via our website, email our sales department at email@example.com, or call us at 011-52-81-8319-4828.