Engineers Break the Mould

Published: 28 August 2007

Sheffield Forgemasters has developed a new vast ingot mould to make steel forgings for some of the world's largest steel mills.

The company is re-engineering its moulds to create ingots which will be forged into the largest steel rolls for Siemens VAI, to work in the huge steel-plate producing mills of India and East Asia.

The new mould will enable Sheffield Forgemasters to create steel forgings for rolls which will produce sheets of steel up to 4.5 metres wide - more than one metre wider than generally produced - to feed the ship-building industries in economically developing regions.

Dr Martin Kearney, technical director for the engineering arm of Sheffield Forgemasters, said: "Forged rolls of certain sizes make up a very high demand market because there are relatively few companies across the globe able to produce such castings and forgings.

"The new ingot size means we will be producing a finished roll weighing approximately 170 tonnes. To do this, the ingot we work from needs to be closer to 300 tonnes.

"The benefits of these large roll sizes are that the steel sheets they produce are wider. This saves massive amounts of welding time on large-scale constructions, but more importantly, constructions using less welding require less inspection for material fatigue along those joints.

Vulcan came on board to work out the process for making ingots of this size.

Paul Mockford, Design Director at Vulcan, said: "Factors such as the vacuum time for the molten steel, the pouring rate and the cooling temperature and duration of solidification for the cast steel are vitally important to prevent structural defects forming in the ingot."

The two-year development of ingot sizes has taken Forgemasters' stock production from 2.7 metres in diameter, to 2.9 metres before creating a mould for ingots of 3.3 metres diameter.

Sheffield Forgemasters aim to cast the first of the new 300 tonne ingots in October.