Sunday, December 29, 2013

Overview of the Steelmaking Process

If you have ever wondered about how steel is made, there are a few things you should know about the process. Before steel was invented (and prior to the days of being able to simply visit the steel supermarket at Wasatch Steel to get whatever you need), iron was used to fashion several different items, including weapons, housewares, gates, and more. In the mid-1800s Henry Bessemer invented the Bessemer process, which added oxygen to the process and created steel. Today steel is still made using the Bessemer process, but it can also be done with the Siemens open hearth, electric arc, high frequency, or even the crucible process.

Bessemer Process

One of the oldest, and still very reliable, processes for making steel is the Bessemer process, which was perfected and brought into mainstream use in the mid- to late-1800s. This method uses an egg-shaped converter with several ton capacity to blow air through iron from the mouth of the converter and create steel. The acid Bessemer process (versus the basic process) was, for the most part, replaced by the acid open-hearth process, which was then replaced again by the electric arc process. There is a short window of only about 25 minutes when the steel is in the furnace, which makes it more difficult to get it just right.

Open Hearth Process
The Siemens open hearth process, which also has an acid and basic variety, uses oil or natural gas to supply the heat for melting and working the charge. Raw materials, including cold or molten pig iron, scrap, and lime are in the furnace for anywhere from 6 to 14 hours, which makes it easier to control the outcome than in the Bessemer process.

Electric Arc Method
This method begins with heat generated from electric arcs struck between carbon electrodes and a metal bath. Steel scrap is melted to remove phosphorus and sulphur, and deoxidize it in the furnace. What remains is a purified steel, which is very high quality as long as there is very little gas absorption and the proper temperature is maintained. This processes is often used today to create highly alloyed steels, such as stainless steel or heat-resisting steel. For some special alloys, the electric arc method is combined with vacuum degassing, which removes hydrogen, atmospheric and volatile impurities for an exceptional quality steel.

Crucible and High Frequency
The crucible method was developed centuries ago, and refers to the process of making steel using a crucible, refining steel that has been consolidated and melting it to become more uniform. It has been replaced in most cases by the high frequency method, where heat is generated in the metal by eddy currents from a magnetic field. When the frequency increases, eddy currents travel closer to the surface of the charge and develop heat to carry the current. The high frequency method is advantageous for eliminating contamination, so high quality steels such as magnet, die, tool steel, and ball bearing steel can be made economically.

Next Steps

Once the steel is made, the next step is to create whatever end-user product you intend to get from the steel. Here are some examples of the different types of steel that are made, and you can find these end-user products at Wasatch Steel:

  • Hot or cold strip steel – used for cars and consumer goods
  • Coils – used for ship building and welded pipes
  • Hot rolled bars – often used for rebar
  • Rods – for wire, nuts, and bolts
  • Tube rounds – for use in making pipes
  • Structural steel – for use in construction and similar applications
  • Rails – for use building railroads 
When you need steel, you can find all the different types of end-user steel products at the steel supermarket at Wasatch Steel.

Benefits of Using Powder Coating for Steel

Many people choose to work with steel over other metals because it offers several advantages that not all metals can provide. It is an extremely durable and strong metal, and also very lightweight so it is a cost-effective option. Finally, it’s extremely customizable and even recyclable, so you can get exactly the steel you want from the steel supermarket at Wasatch Steel while still being earth-friendly. Powder coating is one finish that you can use for steel that allows you to customize the color of your steel and protect it, and there are several benefits to using this process.

What is Powder Coating?
The process of powder coating uses a dry powdered paint compound that fuses together to create a paint finish on your steel from Wasatch Steel that is durable and long-lasting. During the process, electrostatically charged powder particles are sprayed at a low velocity from a paint gun, and the electrostatic charge keeps the paint particles on the surface; these specialized pigments, resins, and fillers then fuse together during a high-temperature curing process (which can be 350 degrees or more).

Benefits of Powder Coating
Durability. One of the main benefits of using a powder coating on steel is corrosion resistance. Over time, when steel is exposed to the elements, it can corrode over time. It is a strong and durable metal, but in order to preserve it and keep it strong for many years, you want to prevent water from damaging the steel. It is also resistant to cracking and peeling, which makes it ideal for many different applications.

Environmentally Friendly. Another reason that many people prefer to use powder coating over other options for protecting steel is that it is an environmentally-friendly process. There are no chemicals or other solvents used during the process, which is different from using wet paint systems on steel. Powder coating processes use electrostatic charges to hold the paint on instead of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), so you don’t have emissions problems.

Versatility. There are hundreds of different paint colors and textures that you can use with powder coating, and it can be used for almost any kind of steel that you can get at Wasatch Steel, as long as it can hold an electrostatic charge and tolerate the high level of heat used in the curing process. Everything from mild steel to galvanized and electroplated steel, as well as stainless steel and most steel alloys can be powder coated.

Keys to Good Powder Coating

In order to get the best powder coating, there are a few things to consider:
  • First, do you have experienced technicians to help finish the project with high quality and in a timely manner?
  • Second, are you using high quality paint so you get a good finish every time?
  • Third, will your project require disassembly in order to do the powder coating? If so, you need to make sure you can complete the tear down service, or you work with someone who can disassemble it in a timely manner.
Once you have these questions answered, you can get your steel from the steel supermarket powder coated so it looks great and is protected for the future.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Benefits of Using Steel to Reinforce Buildings

When you are in charge of building construction, there are several different things that you think about during the construction phase—not only do you want to create buildings that are sustainable and affordable, you also want buildings that are durable and can stand the test of time. When it comes to construction materials, using steel reinforced concrete is the best way to achieve both. Here are some of the benefits of this building material.

Durability and Longevity
Any structural building needs to be both aesthetically pleasing and durable, and steel reinforced concrete, made with raw materials from Wasatch Steel, can be both. Because steel has extremely high tensile strength and can withstand many of the forces of time, it eliminates the need to build new structures in future years.

Today’s building codes require that any structure is able to withstand whatever natural disasters might come, which include floods, earthquakes, and (although rare) even tornadoes in the state of Utah. If you use another material, or just decide to use concrete alone without any additional reinforcement, the building will likely not meet building codes and will not provide the safety that its occupants want.

Resisting Fire
In addition to natural disasters, steel reinforced concrete is a great way to increase the ability of a building to withstand damage from fire. Steel and concrete can get extremely hot before melting, making them ideal for buildings that need to meet even stringent fire codes without requiring any additional fireproofing applications, which can add to the cost of your building project.

Good for the Environment
Steel reinforced concrete is a very efficient building material to use, since concrete has the ability to absorb more heat throughout the day and release it during the evening hours. The result is a reduction in heating costs for your building. In addition, since steel is one of the lightest metals available, getting it to and from your worksite is even good for the environment. It costs less to get the materials from Wasatch Steel to your building site, which means you can feel good about helping to save the environment and you can also help keep your project’s budget on track with steel reinforced concrete.

With improvements in the steel production and concrete manufacturing, many green building programs, particularly the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program, recognizes it as a good way to achieve environmentally-friendly building designs.

Minimal Maintenance
Its durability also means that steel requires very little maintenance in the long term. Your building will withstand the elements of everyday wear and tear without needing additional fixes or harsh chemicals for patching problems.

Building Aesthetics
Steel reinforced concrete also offers builders the opportunity to create beautiful designs without compromising in any area of maintenance, sustainability, durability, and energy efficiency. The strength of steel allows for buildings to have more open space for interior layouts and gives building owners the options to modify and expand the existing space, creating more or fewer offices to generate revenue and accommodate different tenants.

Materials from Wasatch Steel allow builders the opportunity to create the perfect space no matter what the building demands.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Using Steel for Your Holiday Décor

Part of the fun of the holiday season is decorating the house for the season to come. If you are getting tired of the more traditional decorations that you can find at every craft store and department store in town, perhaps it’s time to look for a little more unique décor by shopping at the steel supermarket at Wasatch Steel. Here are some ways you can use steel for distinctive and beautiful holiday decorating.

Steel Christmas Trees
You can make just about anything into a Christmas tree these days, and if you want to create some beautiful trees to put around your house, think about doing it with steel. Whether you pick up a sheet of steel to create a flat tree cut-out, use the same steel sheet to create a steel cone that you can decorate with paint, glitter, sequins, or another artistic design.

You can even cut shapes into the steel and put candles or lights inside for a pre-lit Christmas tree you can put on the mantel, on a side table in your entry or living room, or use as a great centerpiece for your holiday table. Put several trees of varying sizes and shapes together to create a visually interesting winter landscape.

Santa’s Reindeer
If you are the artistic type, or you are good in metalworking, you can find several smaller pieces at the steel supermarket at Wasatch Steel to build your own reindeer. Get creative and build them from non-traditional metal pieces, such as round or square metal tubing, giving them an abstract look that sets them apart from the usual reindeer that you see in every store. You can combine them with trees to make a beautiful Christmas scene on your mantel or table.

Steel Ornaments
If you’re struggling to figure out what to get for that person who is hard to shop for, visit Wasatch Steel to find some of the odds and ends to make into a beautiful Christmas ornament. You can create just about anything you can imagine with the huge selection of steel and iron available from their store.

Candle Holders
There is nothing that captures the warmth and magic of the holiday season quite like candlelight, but if you’re tired of seeing the same old candleholders year after year, think about making some of your own this year. You could use steel spindles that are traditionally designed for staircase railings to make heavy-duty candleholders, or take a sheet of metal and wrap it in a circle, cut out some holiday-themed designs, and make votive holders.

Window Decorations
Another idea for this year’s holiday décor is to create some visually interesting window displays. Start with some basic steel and ribbon, and build a hanging window frame with an ornament in the middle. Steel is perfect because it can be painted any color that you want to match all your holiday decorations.

There are endless ways you can use steel to spruce up your holiday look this year. If you find that you want something that is out of the ordinary to make your home ready for the season, stop by Wasatch Steel to see what treasures you can find.

Essential Tools for Working with Steel

When it comes to working with steel, there are a lot of things that you need to make it happen—not the least of which is the right type of steel, which you can find in a huge selection at the steel supermarket at Wasatch Steel—but if you don’t have the right tools, you won’t be able to create what you want out of the steel you do have. Here are some of the most common tools that you might need for your next steel working adventures.

One of the advantages of shopping at Wasatch Steel is that you can often find some of the basic tools you will need right at our warehouse in the front office. We have a big selection of tools that you can check out, so you get a one-stop-shop for both your steel and your tools.

Fabrication Tools
For many different metalworking applications, you may need a lathe and lathe accessories, which gives you the option to do several different tasks with your metal while it rotates symmetrically on an axis, including cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, facing, turning, and more.

Other fabrication tools to consider include pipe and bar fabrication, beginning with pipe threaders, pipe and bar benders, pipe bender accessories, and tube notchers. These can help when you need to do extensive work with pipes or tubes. If you are working with sheet metal, the tools you might need include English wheels, planishing hammers, combination benders, manual bending brakes, metal shears, and slip rollers.

Fabrication accessories to consider include a bench rotary machine, fastener kit, body hammer and dolly kit, and bearing splitter set.

Cutting & Pressing Tools
If you have steel that you need to cut, you’ll want to have the right tools to create the shapes that you desire. That might include cutting the steel with a band saw, which comes in both a portable and stationary variety. You can also find presses, such as a drill press to create the perfect holes in your steel, or if you are looking for a way to press in bearing and shafts, an arbor press might be a good option. If you are serious about the metalworking you plan to do, you can also invest in a larger hydraulic press or pneumatic press for shearing, punching, bending, forming, drawing, extruding, and assembly work that you do.

Blacksmith Tools
There are also a wide variety of blacksmith tools that could come in handy during your next job, both for small and large projects. Some of today’s blacksmith tools have come a long way since the days of the original smiths, while others are still similar to the original tools to do the work by hand. They include gas forces, a blacksmith pein, tongs, punches, swages, mandrels, scrolling wrenches, metal finishes and sealers, and of course, protective gear to keep your hands, eyes, and body safe while you work with hot metal.

Smoothing & Finishing Tools
Once you have the steel cut the way you want it, the next step is to smooth it out so you can create the perfect look. That might include deburring and polishing tools that can smooth out the work that you do with the drill press and punching tools. You may also need sanding discs and belts, belt grinders, abrasive wheels, or sandpaper, sanding hand pads and sponges if you intend to do it by hand.

Finding the right tools is the key to ensuring that your metalworking is done well. You can find some of the tools, and all the metal you need for your next project at Wasatch Steel.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

5 Steel Accents that Can Improve Your Home

There are a lot of different things that people do to improve the look of their home, but it doesn’t always require a whole remodeling project just to get a new style. There are several ways that you can use steel to update the look of your home quickly and easily, and it doesn’t require a major contractor’s license to get it done. Start at Wasatch Steel to find all the materials you need for steel home accents.

Stainless Steel Kitchen Accents
One place that stainless steel has become tremendously popular is in the kitchen. There are a couple of different ways you can implement steel in your kitchen’s look, both for classic styles and contemporary designs. If you want to go for a modern look, you can use exposed steel such as steel I-beams or ductwork. You can also use steel to build a range hood or install counter accents that match your stainless steel appliances, or install a backsplash with pre-cut steel tiles or individual metal pieces for a truly unique look.

Steel Stair Railings
Another simple way to bring steel to your home is with a new staircase railing. You can get both traditional iron or stainless steel for a more industrial look, depending on whether you prefer to have a classic or modern feel in your home. Wasatch Steel finds the best in new, used, and excess prime steel, and offers a variety of different shapes and sizes for stair railings that you won’t find anywhere else, including basic shapes, floral, nature-shaped spindles, and more.

Steel Lighting
Lighting can have a big impact on every room, and using steel to create unique and beautiful lighting can highlight the best features of your home. If you don’t want to have the same look as all your neighbors, find interesting and artistic pieces of steel at Wasatch Steel to build your own lamps and ceiling lighting for your dining, kitchen, entryways, and bedrooms.

Stainless Steel Shelves
Get creative with your storage by building stainless steel shelving. You can create something industrial, or more traditional depending on the type of steel you use for your shelves. Brand new stainless steel shelving can give your home a modern feel, while iron can have a more classic feel to it. You can build the shelves into your walls, or create a metal shelf that can be moved around to different places for the perfect storage solution. Plus steel can easily be painted to match your room, so you can get a beautiful style for any area of your home.

Steel Artwork
You don’t have to be an artist to create metal artwork for your home décor. Finding unique pieces of metal at Wasatch Steel and putting them together for a beautiful piece of art is something that can set your home apart. If you are an artist, Wasatch Steel has some of the most unique pieces of metal that you will find anywhere, in a variety of grades, materials, and colors, to enhance every piece of artwork that you create.

Come to Wasatch Steel for the biggest selection of options to accent your home.

Buying from a Steel Wholesaler Versus a Steel Mill

If you have ever worked with steel, you are probably familiar with the different ways that you can purchase steel—either from a wholesaler, or directly from a steel mill. There are some key differences between purchasing from the two, and it’s important to understand the benefits of each so you can get the steel you need for your next project.

The Need for Steel
Our world today relies on steel as a primary metal for building much of the things that we use every day, from the roads we travel on to the appliances in our homes. It has long been used in commercial construction, and today is increasingly popular for residential construction as well. Millions of companies use steel in their manufacturing processes, and many do-it-yourself enthusiasts enjoy the durability and strength of steel.

Buying from a Steel Mill
There are a few major competitors in the steel market, primarily large steel mills that include Reliance Steel & Aluminum, Ryerson, and Schnitzer Steel Industries in the U.S., China Minmetals, Salzgitter in Germany, and Sojitz in Japan. Buying directly from a steel mill can benefit some companies, especially those that use a high volume of steel in their everyday operations. However, a steel mill will generally only ship in truckloads, which can be 20 to 24 tons, and can require lead order times up to two months or more, plus you will be limited to a very small range of sizes.

Buying from Wasatch Steel
If your business or personal steel needs don’t reach the threshold of ordering 24 tons of steel at a time, or you need something more specialized, the best way to get steel is from the steel supermarket at Wasatch Steel. Almost half of all the steel sold in the U.S. is sold through distributors like Wasatch Steel.

One of the main reasons to purchase from Wasatch Steel is the variety of products available. Depending on your application, you may need steel sheets, rods, plates, bars, tubes, or beams. You may require these items in different sizes, thicknesses, and grades in order to get just the right materials for every project.

Another reason to buy from Wasatch Steel is the level of customer service available. With all of our steel selection available in easy-to-find lengths, widths, and thicknesses, shopping for steel is as easy as shopping for groceries at your local supermarket. Plus we have friendly and knowledgeable employees who can help you get exactly what you’re looking for, even if you’re not quite sure what you need when you arrive. If we don’t have what you need, we can even cut steel to your exact specifications, often while you wait, so you get convenient and fast service and leave with everything you need for your next project.

Finally, Wasatch Steel offers you the ability to buy steel at an affordable price. We search all over the U.S. for the best deals on new, used, and excess prime steel so you can find the perfect pieces, whether they are standard sizes, or odds and ends, for your steel creations. Come find out why buying from Wasatch Steel is better.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Update Your Kitchen with Steel

Remodeling your kitchen is a great way to spruce up your home and make it look new again, but sometimes a full remodel is not really in your budget. When that happens, there are still ways you can spruce up your living space with smaller and simpler do-it-yourself projects that can really bring your kitchen to life. Here are a few ways you can update your kitchen’s look with items from the steel supermarket at Wasatch Steel.

Getting the Perfect Look
One of the keys to using stainless steel, or any kind of steel in your kitchen is to make sure you get the right look. Steel is not exactly the warmest or most charming decorative accent, so it’s important that you figure out exactly the look you’re going for in advance. If you want to create a modern or contemporary feel, going with steel on its own or in combination with other metals can definitely accomplish this. If you want to preserve some warmth and charm, combine steel kitchen accents with natural woods and earth tones to keep it from becoming too out of balance.

Steel Backsplashes
Creating a backsplash doesn’t mean you have to lay your own tile. Many people today are experimenting with other materials, such as steel, which can instantly transform your dull kitchen walls into an array of light and reflection. You can go with standardized backsplash tiles, or find something unique at the steel supermarket and create your own special backsplash design.

Steel Countertops
Many restaurants use stainless steel for their cooking surfaces, and for good reason. The metal is extremely durable, strong, and can withstand just about anything you do in the kitchen. In addition to being strong, stainless steel is also great for a sanitary environment, because it’s easy to keep clean. If you’re thinking about stainless steel countertops, talk to the friendly professionals at Wasatch Steel to find out more about what types of steel plates are available, and how you can get them cut to the specific size you want.

Exposed Steel
Another unique way to use steel in your kitchen if you don’t want to go with full steel countertops, is to create steel edging. You can find steel plates at a place like Wasatch Steel, have them cut to your specifications, and then install them below the cabinets as a kick guard, or on the edges of the counters to form a cool accent. These subtle details can really make your kitchen look newer with relatively little work.

Steel Lighting

A final way that you can add flair to your kitchen is with cool stainless steel lighting fixtures. You can purchase them, or go to the steel supermarket at Wasatch Steel and see if you can find some unique pieces to build your own lighting that will be one-of-a-kind.

There are endless possibilities for making your kitchen look new without shelling out the cash to get a full kitchen remodel job done. These simple additions can bring new life to your old space with just a little bit of work and creativity.