Steeltec optimises process parameters: Improved drawing technology yields greater steel strength
Steeltec’s HSX® range of high-strength and higher strength bright steel products is now being offered to customers at optional strengths of more than 1400 MPa. Steeltec has achieved this by reducing friction effects during the bar drawing process, as friction has a direct influence on the mechanical properties of the drawn steel. It also results in enhanced productivity, as a ten percent reduction in friction has enabled Steeltec to a 25 percent increase in the speed at which bright steel bar is drawn through the dies. These technological improvements are Steeltec’s response to the growing demand from innovation-driven industries for ultrahigh-strength steel products. The automotive sector, for example, needs access to these steel products in order to manufacture lightweight high-performance components such as automotive drive shafts thus enhancing vehicle Efficiency.
“Consolidating and strengthening our position as the leading provider of quality steel solutions means working continuously to improve our technological efficiency and the quality of our steel products,” explains Guido Olschewski, Head of Management Systems and Product Development at Steeltec. “We therefore examined the tribological properties (i.e. the friction, lubrication and wear) of our bar drawing processes. The parameters of the bar drawing process influence not only the efficiency of our manufacturing operations, but also the physical and mechanical properties imparted to the steel bar. To make improvements in the drawing process measurable, Steeltec – a subsidiary within the SCHMOLZ + BICKENBACH Group – quantitatively determined all of the relevant parameters. The drawing force was recorded using sensors mounted on the forming dies. This enabled Steeltec to assess how the drawing force depends on the lubricating oil, the surface roughness of the stock, the drawing speed and the surface quality of the drawing dies. Technical fine tuning enabled Steeltec to lower frictional forces by around ten percent. That means, conversely, that by using the previously high drawing forces, Steeltec is now able to produce bar material of even higher strength. These developments have effectively expanded the technical capabilities of the company’s existing drawing benches. Other benefits include reduced wear on the drawing dies and shorter throughput times. The result is greater flexibility and improved manufacturing productivity. Guido Olschewski summarised Steeltec’s motivation in improving its process technology as follows: “Our motto is ‘Contributing ideas’ and at Steeltec we work with our customers as partners to develop special steel solutions that reflect the latest technological progress in the industrial sectors that use our products.”