AK Steel said that the first heat of steel was melted on March 4 in the company’s new 175-ton-capacity electric arc furnace (EAF) at its Butler (Pa.) Works. A new ladle-metallurgy furnace (LMF) at the Butler plant has also begun processing molten steel. The addition of the new EAF and LMF to the Butler melt shop is part of a modernization of the company’s specialty-steel operations during the past several years totaling more than $180 million. The new EAF is capable of melting 1.4 million tons/year, which is about 40% more than the total capacity of the previous three-furnace operation.

According to AK Steel, the new furnaces will enable the company to lower production costs, increase steelmaking capacity and improve the quality of all of Butler Works’ products. They also give AK Steel greater flexibility in adjusting production levels and product mix of electrical, stainless and carbon steels, depending upon market conditions. The EAF uses recycled steel scrap as the primary raw material. The steel scrap is loaded into the furnace and melted at temperatures that can be higher than 3000°F. The LMF is an intermediate steel-processing unit that refines the chemistry and temperature of the molten metal prior to continuous casting.