Steel service centers are facilities that process and treat various alloys of raw steel and sell the treated steel to manufacturers, who use them to produce any number of steel goods. Manufacturers that request the services of steel service centers include those in the aerospace, automotive manufacturing, construction, electronics, and shipbuilding industries, among others.
Typically, steel service centers manufacture a variety of premade shapes, such as steel beams, steel strip, steel tubing, and I beams, as well as a myriad of pre-production treatment processes. In fact, approximately 70% of all steel purchased by steel service centers receives some sort of pre-production processing. Servicers perform services like steel galvanization, steel aluminization, hot rolling, and cold rolling.
Galvanization is a procedure during which cold rolled carbon steel is coated with a protective layer of zinc. This coating helps deter rust and corrosion. Usually, this is achieved through the hot-dip method, which involves submerging steel parts into a bath of molten zinc. Products that may receive this treatment include automobile parts, bicycle components, nuts, bolts and nails, outdoor piping and building and furniture components like steel frames/building frameworks, ladders, staircases, verandas, balconies, and street furniture.
Similarly, aluminization is a process by which steel is coated on both sides, via hot dip, with either an aluminum-silicon alloy or pure aluminum. Aluminized steel possesses both the properties of steel, such as a high strength and a light weight, along with the smooth finish, corrosion-resistant, and conductive properties of high strength aluminum. Products commonly aluminized with aluminum-silicon alloy include water heaters, baking pans, ovens, fireplaces, and ranges, while those products aluminized with pure aluminum include grain bins, corrugated siding and roofing, drying ovens, and air-conditioner condenser houses. Read More…
During hot rolling, carbon steel is heated past its recrystallization temperature, around 1650℉, after which it becomes pliable. Once pliable, it is pushed through rollers, which stretch and compress it into even grain flow. Hot rolling allows for a variety of different shapes. However, it does present a disadvantage: as hot rolled steel cools, its surface may oxidize, becoming blue-gray and less smooth.
For steel with a higher structural integrity and strength, service centers will employ cold rolling. The process is much the same, except that it is performed at room temperature. Using this method, the steel is not at risk for oxidation. However, without high heat, the shapes that servicers may create are limited.
Other preprocessing procedures that steel service centers may perform include cutting, sawing, shaping, and shearing steel to specific dimensions. Some steel service centers also recycle steel that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
Two alloys that service centers most commonly offer are spring steel and High Strength Low Alloy (HSLA) steel, or high strength steel. Spring steel is a medium carbon steel alloyed with silicon, the presence of which lends some flexibility. In addition to silicon, spring steel often also contains additives like nickel and/or cobalt, which help it better withstand high temperatures.
To draw out and exaggerate its properties even more, spring steel can be hardened or tempered through air hardening, quenching in oil, and/or heat treatment. Quenching is a post-roll process during which steel is cooled in oil or cold water. Steel service centers often receive requests for spring steel from manufacturers seeking durable, abrasion and heat resistant metal with which to make plastic injection molds or tools.
HSLA is alloyed with a much larger number of metals than spring steel, including chromium, copper, nickel, phosphorus, and silicon. In addition to these, which increase the alloy’s corrosion resistance, HSLA may be alloyed with small amounts of vanadium, titanium, copper, and columbium, for strength.
HSLA, which is often cold rolled or quenched, has great structural integrity. For this reason, it is sought after by manufacturers of transportation equipment. Other steel alloys that steel service centers may provide include tool steel, Eglin steel, maraging steel, Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS), and more.
Steel service centers, which process approximately 30% of standard industrial steel products and 45% of specialty steel products in use today, are regulated by the American Society for Testing and Materials, or ASTM. The ASTM is a non-profit organization that issues quality standards that service centers and steel manufacturers are required to meet.
Their yearly-updated book of standards outlines requirements for steel plates, tubes and fittings, steel pipes, steel for machine use, steel for structural use, and steel for special purposes, among others. Following these guidelines, steel service centers provide quality steel and steel treatments to all kinds of manufacturers.
These processes yield various types of steel to fit manufacturers’ specific needs, which include high strength steel, spring steel, tool steel, and many other varieties. A very long list of important steel products, including products like plate armor, shipbuilding materials, construction materials, and many other examples, are processed in steel service centers.