The entry of the Bessemer process in the 19th Century was perhaps the defining point for mass steel production. Other production techniques such as the Siemens-Martins process and the Gilchrist-Thomas process followed, but they served to refine the steel production process further. Steel is, therefore, popular for construction and many other uses since unlike other forms of iron such as wrought iron; it is harder and possesses tensile strength. (Huaixiang, Zhang and Xingqi n. The efficacy of steel, its properties and suitability for a particular use are determined by among other things, the method of manufacture and chemical composition.
Heat treatment is among the determinants of the strength and properties of steel. However, the constituent elements of steel such as carbon, sulfur, manganese, niobium and vanadium play a more significant role in dictating the physical qualities of steel. They affect the hardness, ductility (ability to be molded or shaped) and ease of welding (Cansizonglu 114). Smelting of iron has to take place in low oxygen conditions after which carbon can be allowed to dissolve in the iron. The mixture is still not called steel as the excess carbon has to be removed.
Thereafter, 11% chromium is added to form a hard corrosion-resistant oxide that is commonly called stainless steel. The ratio of elements in the alloy dictates the density of steel but on average steel density ranges from 7,750 and 8,050 kg/m3 or 7.75 and 8.05 g/cm3 (Murr 46). Toughness of steel can be enhanced by adding nickel in the alloy while maintaining low levels of sulfur enhances ductility of steel. At the same time, heating and cooling at different levels of production radically affects the specific components of steel and ultimately the mechanical performance of the steel produced.
Therefore, material combination, heat application as well as mechanical treatment of steel during production will determine the strength and performance of steel (Huaixiang, Zhang and Xingqi n. Mechanical treatment is when steel is rolled or formed, mechanical working takes place. It means that, the more steel is subjected to rolling, the stronger it becomes. The thickness of steel can then be reduced yet the strength remains dependable. Heat treatment is the process of rolling steel results in its cooling.
Rolling steel ends at a temperature of about 7500C. When this steel is left to cool, it is referred to as ‘As-rolled
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