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A Revolutionary Metal – Steel

Posted by shigh on

Steel

Andrew Carnegie

Steel Pioneer Andrew Carnegie

The industrial heartland of the US once produced the most steel in the world. Steel factories started popping up, covering the Great Lakes area of the Midwest.  From the end of the 1800s to the 1970s the raw materials used to make steel were abundant and the demand for steel was fueled by war and economic growth. During this period steel production was at an all-time high and in the US it spawned an industry that gave birth to the country’s wealthiest of business tycoons such as Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan, who formed the largest steel company in the world, U.S. Steel.

The Mills
Steel mills are a giant reminder of the industrial age. They are huge complexes spanning thousands of acres. Most steel mills are positioned along a large body of water because they use the water to help accommodate the water needs of the steel mill. Large steel cooling facilities need tonnage of water just to cool the hot formed steel. The Great Lakes region of the US was the perfect place for steel mills and many were built during the industrial age that it commonly became known as “hell on earth”. So much steel was being produced it had a lasting effect on the environment. Orange dust was constant in cities like Pittsburgh. The heat generated made the surrounding homes hot and muggy, not to mention being a steel worker was a hard, dangerous job.

Liquid Steel

liquid steel being pored

Hot Process
Steel is made through a process of mixing a precise amount of iron ore and other metals using very high heat to fuse the chemistry of the metals together to create steel billets. The steel billet is either hot rolled or cold rolled into a variety of applications. Safe companies will buy this steel and use it in production.

Versatility
Believe it or not steel is a malleable metal. If treated right, you can bend it and shape it into desired thicknesses and shapes. You can weld steel onto more steel to create a super strength bond. Safe manufacturers are always playing around with the various types and properties of steel to create their desired products. It doesn’t go without effort though. To shape steel you need lots of heat and heavy machinery to flatten it and form it. Some even go so far as to re-melt the steel to create all different types of rods and structural bars.

Back during the industrial age railroads, were connecting America faster than ever, and train tracks were being created at a lightning fast pace. Steel made this all possible and one might even suggest that without steel America would not be what it is today. Skyscrapers, trains, automobiles and the like all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan. These steel Pioneers paved the way for America.

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