Tata Steel announced that it will build a vacuum induction melting (VIM) furnace at its Stocksbridge site in South Yorkshire, U.K., to enable it to tap into new market opportunities and develop new products for the aerospace and oil and gas industries. The VIM furnace will allow Tata Steel’s Specialty Steels business, which currently supplies steel to aircraft engine and airframe makers, to expand its product portfolio. The company’s Specialty Steels business will work with German metallurgical-technology company SMS Mevac to construct a VIM facility at Stocksbridge. The furnace is expected to be commissioned in early 2015.
The VIM production route involves melting high-purity steel and alloys in a crucible furnace and then casting the purified liquid steel into ingot molds all within a low-pressure vacuum chamber. 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.