Tata Steel builds ultra-modern furnace for special requirements of its customers of the aerospace industry
Tata Steel announced it will build together with SMS Mevac GmbH (www.sms-mevac.com) a Vacuum Induction Melting (VIM) furnace at its Stocksbridge site in South Yorkshire, UK, to enable Tata Steel to tap into new market opportunities and develop innovative new products for the aerospace and oil & gas industries.
The cutting-edge VIM X-eed furnace will allow Tata Steel’s Speciality Steels business, which already supplies steel to aircraft engine and airframe makers, to further develop relationships with its customers and expand its product portfolio.
For Tata Steel it is an important step towards consolidating its position as a leading supplier of high-purity steels to the global aerospace market. Commissioning is scheduled for early 2015.
For this project the company’s Speciality Steels business will work with German metallurgical technology company SMS Mevac, a major supplier of vacuum steelmaking equipment, to build a VIM facility at Stocksbridge.
Henrik Adam, Chief Commercial Officer of, Tata Steel, said: “The addition of a VIM furnace to our asset base for aerospace steel production is an exciting prospect.”
“It enhances our role as a partner for key customers who require highly specialised products. Our ability to support them is an important aspect of our role in the aerospace steels supply chain.”
Mark Broxholme, Managing Director of Speciality Steels, said: “While the business currently supplies small quantities of VIM-derived steel using ingots sourced from third parties, having our own manufacturing capability will greatly increase our scope for VIM sales.”
“This is a clear signal to our customers that we are fully committed to the aerospace market for the long term.”
Michael Thiehofe, Managing Director of SMS Mevac: “SMS Mevac is happy to finally go ahead with Tata Steel with the execution of the concept for the VIM X-eed unit for the Stocksbridge Works. I am very much looking forward to seeing the plant in full operation in 2015, satisfying the requirements of this demanding, high-end market. ”
The VIM production route involves melting high-purity steel and alloys in a crucible furnace, and then casting the purified liquid steel into ingot moulds all within a low pressure vacuum chamber. As the entire melting and casting operation is conducted in an oxygen-free atmosphere, the resulting steel is very clean and has very low gas content.
Alloying additions, also carried out under vacuum, allow for precise control of the steel’s chemical composition.
The ingots produced will be refined further by processing through a Vacuum Arc Remelting (VAR) unit before being rolled or forged into products such as engine and landing gear components for the aerospace market.
Markus Hüllen, Head of Technical Department at SMS Mevac GmbH, said: “SMS Mevac will demonstrate during the execution of this project that – based on more than 40 years of experience in the field of vacuum metallurgy with more than 400 units built worldwide and combined with the in-house operating know-how of our experienced international specialists - we are capable of building a VIM X-eed unit of the next generation.”
Speciality Steels VIM Project Manager Stephen Carey said: “We have been working closely with SMS Mevac for the past 12 months on the design and layout of the furnace. This preparatory work will greatly accelerate the programme to commissioning, meaning that customers will see products from the new furnace at the earliest opportunity.”
SMS Siemag AG and SMS Meer GmbH are both companies of SMS group which, under the roof of SMS Holding GmbH, consists of a group of companies internationally active in plant construction and mechanical engineering for the steel and nonferrous metals industry.