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Methods of Making Steel

Steel is a very useful material because of its strength and purity. You probably already know that steel fabricators Salem OR produce the metal, but you may not know what is involved in the process to turn iron into steel.

Steel originates from iron, an element that human beings probably first discovered in a meteorite that fell to Earth from outer space. Though very useful in its own right, iron contains impurities that weaken it. Steel production removes these impurities, resulting in a metal that is much stronger. There are several different methods of producing steel from iron.

Basic Oxygen Furnace

This is the fastest method of producing steel. Perhaps for that reason, it is also the most commonly used. The process involves lowering levels of impurities, such as carbon, manganese, phosphorus, and silicon, by melting down iron and blowing high-purity oxygen through it. Levels of sulfur and phosphorus are further reduced by adding fluxes, or chemical cleaning agents.

Bessemer Process

This method involves oxidizing the unwanted elements present in the molten iron ore. Oxidization involves binding the impurities to oxygen via a chemical process that takes place in a device called a Bessemer converter. The converter contains molten iron through which air is blown so oxidization can take place.

Open-Hearth Furnace

This method of steel production involves separating out impurities from the iron ore by heating it to an extreme temperature of approximately 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit in an open-hearth furnace. Through a process of oxidization, the impurities rise to the surface and float out of the molten iron. It is important to control the level of carbon remaining in the steel, as it is important to the alloy. The open-hearth furnace method takes a long time and so is not used as often as the other methods.

Steel is an alloy that contains carbon at a consistency of 0.5% to 1.5%. It is also possible to create an even tougher alloy by adding a variety of other metals during the process.…