PRO-TEC Coating Co. started hot commissioning of the continuous annealing line supplied by SMS Siemag and installed at its facility in Leipsic, Ohio. The line, which will be used to produce ultrahigh-strength steel strips, has been designed to produce almost 500,000 tons per year of steel strip for high-strength automotive structural components. The high-capacity annealing furnace with integrated ultra-fast cooling system was provided by Drever International, also a company of the SMS group.

The annealing process and special cooling strategies with particularly high cooling rates reduce strain hardening from the rolling process, enabling the sophisticated mechanical properties in the material to be set exactly as required. The line has been designed for strips with gauges from 0.6 to 2.3 mm (0.02-0.09 inches) and widths ranging from 700-1,650 mm (27.5-65 inches). PRO-TEC is a joint venture between U.S. Steel and Kobe Steel, with several strip-processing lines in Leipsic, Ohio.