Role of steel in the automobile industry

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Role of steel in the automobile industry

The automobile industry manufactures and sells automobiles like cars, buses, trucks, and other vehicles. It is one of the key drivers of the economic growth of India. One material that forms the backbone of this industry is steel. It is widely used in the auto industry. Approximately 55% of a car’s weight comes from steel and on average, a vehicle weighs 1200kg – so that’s a large amount of steel.  

Steel forms a significant part of the automotive industry. Owing to its excellent properties, steel is widely employed in the making of vehicle bodies. Steel is very tough and thus is the go-to-choice for making vehicles. It lends strength and ensures safety. Moreover, steel is cost-efficient along with being light-weight. Steel is also easy to weld and can be reformed easily. All these reasons come together to make steel the most favorable material to be used in manufacturing automobiles. 

Let’s take a look at the uses of steel in the making of an automobile: 

  • Structure of the vehicle: The structure of the automobile makes use of a large amount of high-quality steel. One of the main reasons that steel is used in the making of body frames is because of its ability to absorb the impact energy produced in a crash. This ensures safety. It also keeps the overall structure lighter, yet sturdy. As the steel has high tensile strength, it works in favor of the vehicle and enables it to withstand tremendous pressure and force. 
  • Propeller shaft: High-quality steel is used for the construction of a propeller shaft. It is because the propeller shaft should be powerful enough with a high wear-resistant property so it can tolerate bending and torsional load. 
  • Seat frame: The seat frame too utilizes steel. The reason being, steel is strong and this makes it possible for the seat to withstand everyday rigors. Moreover, steel can be easily formed into the desired shape for comfort. 
  • Exhaust Tubes: These too are again made of steel.  

From the total amount of steel used in an automobile, 34% of it is applied in the body structure, panels, trunk closures, and doors. Apart from that, the drive train makes use of 23% of the steel. Another 12% is used in the suspension. The rest of the steel is utilized in the making of the fuel tank, wheel, steering, and braking system. Thus, steel forms an integral part of the automobile industry.

Steel Manufacturing Process & What Makes Good Quality Steel Stand Apart

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Steel Manufacturing Process & What Makes Good Quality Steel Stand Apart

An alloy of carbon and iron, steel is being widely used in the present day scenario. Various qualities like versatility, strength, and cost-effectiveness make it one of the most used metals in the contemporary world. However, the process of manufacturing steel runs much deeper than the finished product – it involves multiple steps and different methods make different grades of steel. The manufacturing process has significantly evolved over the years. However, it still employs the original Bessemer process to some extent, which uses oxygen to lower the carbon content in iron.

Let’s understand the manufacturing process in detail.

The definition of steel is ‘iron alloyed with carbon, usually less than 1%’. The carbon percentage varies from 0.25% to 1.5%.

The process to produce steel first requires the production of molten iron. The same is accomplished with the Blast furnace process. A furnace is an enclosed cylindrical structure that is used to heat materials to extreme temperatures.

The blast furnace is supplied with iron ore, coke (also known as crude iron – it is a grey and hard fuel manufactured by heating coal in the absence of air. It has high carbon content and a few impurities) and small quantities of fluxes (minerals like limestone which combines with impurities to form slag and separates from metal in the form of stony waste matter). The same results in the formation of molten pig iron, which is further required in the manufacturing of steel.

Passing oxygen through molten pig iron lowers the carbon content of the alloy and changes it into steel.

There a few properties which make good quality steel stand apart, like the following:-

1. They are corrosion resistant

Different types of steel have diverse levels of corrosion resistance. Some grades of austenitic stainless steel have great corrosion resistance because of the high amounts of chromium and molybdenum present in them. Also, apart from being resistant to rust, the various grades of quality steel guard against the corrosive effects of saltwater and chemical exposures.

2. They are heat treatable

Good quality steel is not affected when they are heat-treated and hence is widely used.

3. High strength

Good quality steel has high strength and hence is employed in various constructional purposes. The good quality steel has a strength ranging from 170 to 450 N/mm². The same makes them stand apart.

4. Cost-effectiveness

Along with all the above-mentioned properties, good quality steel also comes at a reasonable price, thus making it a preferred choice across industries.

5. Aesthetically pleasing

Quality steel is widely employed in interior designing and home appliances. The reason being they provide attractive finishing and are also durable.