Adding Value to Steel Manufacturing

IVACO is expanding today, partly because of research using the CNBC that enabled it to add value to its products.

Image: IVACO facilities in L’Orignal, Ontario. (IVACO)

Canadian manufacturers have been hit hard by the rise of the Canadian dollar over the past decade, which drives up the cost of exports. Steel manufacturers in Canada who export products have been forced to restructure and re-engineer their businesses models to remain competitive.

“Having detailed, fundamental knowledge of the strain and stress states in our customer’s deformed steel parts allowed us to add value to our products and gain an edge over our competitors.”

For example, Ivaco Rolling Mills (IRM), one of three groups of companies that compose IVACO, is expanding its steel plant at L’Orignal, Ontario. IRM operates one of the largest rod mills in North America and it offers the largest range of rod diameters in North America. The $80-million expansion project consists of upgrades that will allow the company to increase its production of steel billets by 225,000 tons annually, and to produce new steel grades for higher quality products and applications. The availability of these higher-quality grades of steel billets will allow the rolling mill to increase production, further penetrate and expand its market share and enter new markets.

Dr. Nicholas Nickoletopoulos, General Manager at Ifastgroupe and Sivaco Wire Group (IVACO), attributes part of the IVACO success in recent years to research and development conducted a decade ago with the CNBC.

“That research helped us build a stronger scientific reputation that was needed to compete in the world market,” says Dr. Nickoletopoulos. “Having detailed, fundamental knowledge of the strain and stress states in our customer’s deformed steel parts allowed us to add value to our products and gain an edge over our competitors.”

A key to making more reliable fasteners such as bolts and screws involves understanding how to minimise or divert strain concentrations in the metal during each manufacturing step. That is why Dr. Nickoletopoulos tackled the difficult problem of modelling strain and stress states when he was a graduate student at McGill University and an engineer with IVACO. In parallel, he accessed neutron beams at the CNBC to measure the actual residual stresses in the steel at each manufacturing step. The experimental data validated his calculations and gave assurance that his finite-element method model could be used to predict the stresses in fastener products made from IVACO’s steel.

Today, IVACO still employs his model when upgrading its product mix, and is reaping the benefits of increased competitiveness that have come from materials research enabled by the CNBC.

This research story was republished with the permission of the Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering.

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