Around 90% by weight of the metal we laser cut in 2019 was steel sheet and plate of various grades, that’s about 69% of the individual components. We sell six variations of mild steel sheet in various thicknesses from 0.7mm to 25mm and fifteen variations of stainless steel sheet ranging from 0.5mm – 20mm thick.
Steel is essential to our society, it is used to create frameworks for buildings, transport systems, energy infrastructure and domestic appliances. The main reasons for the popularity of steel are the relatively low cost of manufacture, the abundance of its two raw materials (iron ore and scrap), and its range of mechanical properties.
- Steel is the most commonly used metal in the world, it is originally made from iron, the 4th most common element in the earth’s crust after oxygen (46%), silicon (28%) and aluminium (8%).
- There are currently 1712.1 million tons of steel being used in the world today.
- Iron, the major component of steel, is relatively soft in its pure state. The main method of strengthening iron to convert it into steel is by adding small amounts of carbon, additional changes can be made through heat-treating and alloying to create different grades.
- In the mid 1850s, a British inventor called Henry Bessemer devised a method to mass-produce steel called the Bessemer Process. Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOS) or Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) are similar processes still used today.
- There are 3500 different grades of steel with different physical, chemical and environmental properties. Each grade of steel has properties which make it suitable for many applications.
- Over 75% of the 3500 steel grades in use today did not exist 20 years ago.
- One of the best things about steel is that it is a permanent material, this means that it can be recycled infinitely. Steel retains its inherent material properties without loss of quality. Recycling one tonne of scrap saves 1.5 tonnes of CO2, 1.4 tonnes of iron ore, 740kg of coal and 120kg of limestone.
- Global steel recovery rates by sector are estimated to be: 85% in construction, 90% in automotive, 90% in machinery and 50% in domestic appliances.
- Around 90% of water used in the steel industry is cleaned, cooled and returned to source. Most of the loss is due to evaporation. Water returned to source is often cleaner than when extracted.