Editorial November 2017

Special Steels’ forms an intricate but still very important sub segment of iron & steel sector. We all know that steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. Apart from its normal properties, specific applications need additions of materials like chromium, silicon, nickel, etc. to impart specific properties to steel. These special steels are used in many engineering machines but the most prominent application being in auto sector. Almost all critical parts and also many other parts inside an automobile are made of special steel components. Even the body is made of steels which have higher impact resistance. Apart from auto sector, the other customer industries include engineering, power sector, aerospace etc. Now defence sector is also opening up and offering many opportunities for special steels and their components.

Naturally, the fortune of special steels sector largely depends on the auto industry. As we have been witnessing for the last few years, this important customer industry has been going through a transition. There is added emphasis on light weight, aerodynamic model and fuel efficiency. These factors have changed their steel requirement, qualitatively as well as quantitatively. Few engine parts, which were earlier made of steel, are now being made of aluminium and its alloys. This is for the sake of reducing the weight of the vehicle. Also, many body parts are being made of composites to reduce the vehicle weight and also the cost.

The special steel producers are also responding positively to these changes. A new family of micro alloyed steels has been introduced by many producers. These steel require very less alloying additions and also eliminate the need of heat treatment thus reducing the cost. A great research is being carried out on a global level to produce light weight steels suitable for auto and similar applications.

Evolution of new technologies and processes like 3D printing and electric vehicles is likely to change not only the perception but the whole structure of this sector. There are various possibilities being discussed and debated right now but now this is certain. Manufacturing sector in general and auto sector in particular will be undergoing a sea change in coming years and this will have a great impact on the fortune of special steels producing industry.

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