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STS BLOOM CASTER FOR SPECIAL STEELS

STARTED 2010 IN THE OLDEST HIGH-TECH


METALLURGICAL CENTRE OF RUSSIA
CELEBRATING 250th YEAR OF PRODUCTION OF
TOP LEVEL STEEL QUALITY
Giorgio CABAI president STS
Fabrizio CABAI managing director STS
Matteo BELLINA technical manager STS

IZHSTAL celebrated its 250 year anniversary in 2010 and STS had the honor to supply &
successfully commission the Continuous Casting Machine tailored to their peculiar melting
shop layout and designed to meet the highest quality demand of blooms, mini-slabs and
billets.

STS is proud to have been an active part of this celebration where quality and pioneering
leading high technology was the philosophy of this company.

In fact IZHSTAL is since so many years the Steel Metallurgical Centre with no stop
research and achievement, even the famous Mr. Nobel was a manager in this plant and
Mr. Putin himself witness the STS caster start-up, confirming the high strategic value of
this plant.

Mr. Putin at plant cast ceremony (source: from Russian TV)


The unique technological processes have been implemented over the years with quality
results that would surprise any visitor of their marvelous private Museum where processes
are so well reproduced.

STS got the order for the CASTER on turn-key basis including initial consumables, with
performance guarantees, based on a thick book of strict standards covering more than 150
steel grades covering of most extreme and wide industrial applications.

IZSHTAL highly qualified and experienced managers and staff has been extremely
cooperative in all phases of the project but at the same time very demanding for their
quality targets exceeding the world standards.

Finally after long and comprehensive testing on a wide range of products fulfilling the
performance guarantees, STS obtained from JSC MANAGEMENT COMPANY MECHEL that
owns this plant, the acceptance certificate and a letter of compliments.

In line with STS conservative philosophy, we have decided to release news on this plant
only after full good plant production and performance and in full agreement with the
owners.

The caster with three strands, is designed to serve the two E.A. Furnaces and LF
respectively with 30t and 42t maximum capacity, to produce sizes of sections ranging from
#100x100mm to #180x180mm and cutting lengths ranging from 4m to 12m.

The main characteristics of the plant equipment supplied can be summarized as follows:

MAIN TECHNICAL FEATURES

 Machine Radius 7m
 Number of Strands Three (3)
 Steel Grades Low, medium and high carbon steels, stainless, medium
and high alloyed
 Ladle Capacity Maximum 42t with sliding gate system and porous plugs
 Sequencing Facility Ladle car for two ladles with hydraulic lifting system
 Weighing Management Tundish and Ladle monitoring by load cells
 Tundish type 10t capacity operating with protected or open stream,
controlled by stopper rods or nozzle changers
 Tundish Car Fully cantilevered, equipped with hydraulic lifting system
 Casting Equipment #125x125mm and #140x180mm
 Mould Type Curved, tubular, multi tapered 1.000mm long with
electromagnetic stirrer
 Speed Control With minimum radioactive emission and automatic start
 Mould Lubrication By alternative proportioning pump with variable flow and
automatic powder delivery system
 Mould Oscillator Hydraulically controlled with adjustable stroke and
frequency
 Guiding Apron In line electromagnetic stirrers, pneumatically
pressurized guiding rolls with progressive force
according to billet size and casting speed, optical billet
temperature monitoring
 Withdrawal Straightener Double radius 7/13m, two withdrawal powered rolls,
computer pneumatic pressure control during casting
according to cast size and speed or re-stranding function
 Dummy Bar System Solid type with overhead tilting/parking, pneumatically
controlled
 Cutting System By automatic innovative oxygen / gas, cutting torch
suitable also for stainless steel, having high speed
cutting capability with long flame powerful cutting tip for
minimum metal loss and perfect cutting surface creating
minimum scarf
 Scarf Removal Automatic blade type system
 Cutting length Adjustable from minimum 4m to 12m with very strict
tolerances of few millimetres
 Billet Identification Unique STS impact type computer controlled marking
machine installed on transfer roller table with combine b
billet weighing, marking 12 personalized characters each
billet
 Billet Transfer Single rollers for all strands
 Billet Discharge Overhead bridge picking up each billet, lifting by
approximately 2m and transferring on first notch of
cooling bed, same bridge can feed hot billet transfer or
short billet sorting
 Cooling System Hydraulic turnover walking beam cooling bed with
grouping of billets for easy removal and storing by
overhead crane (machine already designed for future
application of billet slow cooling system for special steels
treatment)
 Pollution Control The machine is equipped with fume extraction also in the
torch area
 Auxiliary Equipment Controlled cooling furnaces designed for a wide range of
qualities
 Plant Supervision HMI level 2
Erection of the caster has been executed focusing on the utmost precision and care
required by the strategic and high quality production of this plant.

Record installation time was not a point of discussion on a plant so fully accessorized and
with a so high target of quality and production level.

In fact from the first meetings was clear and agreed that the important point was to have
the best available technologies installed, for a casting plant that must be a reference for
the biggest Russian steel company on his historical and most important production site.

Thus the caster, as can be deducted by the preliminary data reported above, had been
equipped and completed in the better way with accessories for high quality production,
with the most advanced automation and controls for the process on line monitoring, for
precise and sure bloom managing system with bloom weighting, sorting, marking and with
controls and supervision for operators help and for monitoring of machine operation and
status.

We report here below some details on the most advanced and peculiar characteristics of
this machine.

MACHINE DETAILS

In details and specifically for bloom quality the following special cares and equipment
have been applied on the caster to fulfill the requests, just to mention the most important
technical solutions of a caster that was considered for STS as “special” from any point of
view:

1. Mould powder automatically controlled powder addition system


The system is independent for each strand and is installed on top part of tundish cars as
per below sketch.
The system is composed by dedicated silos with capacity sufficient for a complete
sequence, the silo is equipped with heating system to assure moisture free powder to be
fed into the mould, with level controls and at silo base a suitable dosing system
pneumatically actuated delivers the right amount of powder according to casting condition
in a completely automatic way.

Suitable duct flushed with Argon convey and distribute the powder on the meniscus.

With this system the operators are only monitoring the situation on the meniscus, being
able with 1 operator to monitor more than 1 strand in more safe and with more consistency
and reliability of the process.

2. Argon feeding controls for tundish to mould area


The system is composed by a dedicated Argon box installed on the tundish and equipped
with flow controls to deliver the right amount of purging gas to the connection between
tundish nozzle and submerged shroud.

The system allows fulfilling the requested guaranteed values over gas pick–up in the final
product.
3. Multi taper copper tubes with profiles selected specifically for the condition of the
Izhstal plant
The copper tube design was very critical due to the wide variety of steel grades to be cast
and so to the wide range of casting speed values, the best solution has been found with
complex multi taper design in several steps to assure proper contact for all the grades to
be cast, with first priority at most critical ones.

4. Automatic mould level control with fast start-up


The STS in house developed control system has been utilized for fast response even with
low power radioactive source; this system allows full control by STS of all working
parameters for a fast set up and immediate performance just after start-up.

The capability of the STS mould level control system was of prime importance in Izhstal
plant mainly for the requests on bloom surface quality that requires an absolutely stable
level in every condition.
The precise and easily adjustable response of the STS controller allow also the Customers
to work even with old radioactive sources that with other systems must be changed earlier
for decay with time spending procedures.

5. Mould electromagnetic stirrer with external coils for the quickest cast size change
and better flexibility of the machine and strand stirrer with adjustable position to be
moved according to cast size and casting condition in the best possible way to
comply with the solidification and metallurgical requirement of ALL the steel grades
to be cast and produced in TOP quality
Due to stringent requests of bloom internal quality and segregation a couple of stirrers
have been considered in all strands: the upper one giving the best improvement on
surface and primary solidification structure, and the second one along the curve giving his
contribution to the internal quality soundness and eliminating segregation.
In consideration of the quite different size of the cast product and the wide range of steel
grades the strand stirrer in the apron has been designed to be moved along the radius be
positioned at correct solidification point in any casting condition and precisely for the
segregation-critical steels.

6. Completely automatic cooling water management for both primary and secondary
cooling, with dedicated nozzles on secondary cooling cages and bloom continuous
temperature monitoring for all strands at cooling chamber exit
The system is adjusted in a completely automatic mode via control valves and suitable
sensors following the specific casting condition and steel grade according to specific
“recipes” inserted in the system.

Additional feedback of bloom temperature measured at the exit of the cooling chamber is
also giving control for double checking that the process is running as per set and
requested metallurgical condition.

7. Cutting torches with powder addition system for stainless steel fast and precise
cutting in any condition and with fume suction system
For the blooms cutting the torches were chosen for the absolute need of avoiding the
deformation created by the shears, and the special high alloyed steels to be produced in
Izhstal requires the iron powder addition, so this system has been integrated in STS
designed high speed simple and reliable cutting torches creating a dedicated machines
set, that has been equipped also with fume suction system due to the local stringent rules
also for safety and health in the working environment.
The torches has been tested during performance period on all steel grades cutting with
reliability and safety all products.

8. Bloom de-burring system


The absolute care of Izhstal for product quality and the need of eliminating time consuming
procedures of bloom conditioning STS was asked also to install device to clean the little
burr created on the lower face of the blooms by torch cutting.

We’ve done this in line with our common view of the machinery, that need to be simple
sturdy and reliable, and we’ve created a simple “knife device” pneumatically actuated that
hits the blooms under face cleaning it very efficiently.

On the following picture the appearance of 140x180 mm bloom ends as per STS cut and
de-burring process.

9. Bloom slow cooling system


The wide variety of steel grades produced, comprising steels for bearings, steels for tools
and for springs had suggested to have in the CCM provision for future installation of bloom
slow cooling system.

This was required from metallurgical point of view to assure quality of the hard steel
grades preventing in these qualities cooling cracks and assuring proper structure for
further processing.
The slow cooling system has been fully engineered from STS with a dedicated couple of
beds totally insulated and covered, designed for 10 and 12 m bloom lengths.

The bloom handling system in the caster has been already made suitable for discharging
the blooms on dedicated roller tables for immediate transfer to the slow cooling beds.

The system installation has then been postponed for organization reasons.

On the other side specifically for bloom control and management the following special
cares and equipment have been applied on the caster to fulfill the requests:

1. Bloom weighting system on transfer roller table


The wide variety of steels produced and the need of optimize the length and weights for
production control and further rolling optimization asked for on line weighting of the
blooms.

The weighting system is installed on the transfer roller table and is served by a lifter that
lifts up the bloom from the roller table and sits it on load cells.
the weight is registered on the production tracking system for each bloom produced and
can be recovered from the historical data base.

Bloom laid down on the roller table just after weighting and punch marking is visible in the
following picture.

The system is installed just in front of the marking machines, so that just after weighting
the blooms are punch marked on the head and then proceeds to the de-burring, cooling
and discharging system.

2. Bloom marking system on transfer roller table


With the aim of avoiding costly controls and bloom mixing the caster was equipped with
marking machines.

The marking machines are completely automatic and are punching o the heads of the
blooms suitable code, decided and modifiable by the Customer recording furnace used to
produce the liquid-heat number-billet number- strand.

The codes are defined automatically by the control system during proceeding of the
production and are punched and recorder in bloom SW historical data and quality control
system for any further analysis.

The appearance of head punch is shown in the following picture.


3. Bloom discharge system with possibility of selecting short blooms and to discharge
to roller table dedicated to hot charging or bloom controlled slow cooling
The design of the discharge system has been made to allow billets and blooms to be
discharged to the cooling bed or to a roller table for immediate transportation and storage
to a pit for slow cooling dedicated for the crack prone high carbon and high alloyed steels.

On opposite side of the cooling bed a suitable frame has been designed to receive the
short billets or any billet not fitting the severe quality standards in force.

4. Bloom automatic SW for quality control and tracking system


The full set of information available by all sensors and controls on the machinery are used
to provide on line monitoring of the process via software as already available on all up to
date casters.

In Izhstal all production parameters together with all surveyed parameters are thus
recorded from the field sensors and collected on the fly for every 10 mm slices of
bloom/billet to provide an historical record of data suitable for easy classification of all
materials produced (casting speed, temperatures, water flows, bloom temperature,
withdrawal pressures, cutting data, bloom weights, marked codes etc.).

Examples of Billet Tracking system pages from which the data are manageable are
reported here below.
MACHINE TEST PHASE AND PERFORMANCES

During erection the base mechanical equipment has been installed with perfect alignment
and leveling that was a must in this peculiar situation, moreover the additional equipment
mentioned above had requested additional effort during installation and setting up.

In the same period and before plant start-up a proper and full training with lessons have
been done covering the continuous casting theory, the machinery mechanical details and
the automation and controls, this to allow all operators to operate, manage and maintain
the machinery in the better way.

Even if only the specific details of the new machinery really needed some clarification;
since the metallurgical heritage of the plant operators and the full passion of all people
involved had really helped the preliminary and start-up phases of the plant.

Theoretical training has been then completed by practical operation on the caster during
cold testing period and during first hot testing, always done in full cooperation between
STS personnel and Izhstal operators.

After erection the machine cold testing procedure has been agreed and executed between
STS and Izhstal as per detailed protocol issued together and in full collaboration.
All measures, parameters, data sets, and details have been considered, verified and
tested to safely start production in the better way with the shortest possible learning curve.

With these premises the plant start-up took really limited amount of time, and after the first
cast with the presence of Mr. Putin the plant go on casting and passing satisfactorily the
preliminary phases of hot start-up.

Then the performance tests have been started according to contractual statements and
with sequence and procedure agreed between the parties.

For casting purposes the steel grades to be produced have been divided in groups/families
having similar behavior, so that the casting parameters can be defined for the families
grouping similar steels.

In this way the caster set up is easier and must be changed less frequently, the so called
“recipes” have been defined for all families in a comprehensive technological manual
submitted to the Customer in due time before the testing.

The wide range of steels to be produced did a little complicate this preliminary phase of
work and the number of families for Izhstal come out to be not so small, as per details
reported in the following table.

Steel Type of Steel Specific Steel grades in Production Production


GROUP Izhstal Production Program 125x125 140x180
№ [t] [t]
1 Peritectic Steel 1a: 20Г, Св-08, Св-08ГА, Св- 50000 5000
08ГС, Св-08Г2С, Св-08А, Св-
08АА, Св-08ХГ2С, Св-10ГА,
Св-10Г2, Св-12ГС, Св-08ХМ,
10, 15, 20, А11, А20, 09Г2С

1b: 12ХН, 12ХН2, 12ХН2А,


12ХН3А, 12Х2Н4А, 20ХН,
20ХН3А, 20Х2Н4А, 15Г, Св-
06НЗ
2 Medium 30ХН3А,40ХН, 45ХН,50ХН, 64000 18000
Carbon Steel 15ХГН2ТА, 19ХГН, 20ХГНМ,
40ХГНМ,
20ХН2М, 40ХН2МА,
25Г,35Г, 40Г,45Г, 50Г, 30Г2,
35Г2, 40Г2, 45Г2, 50Г2, 25Г2С,
25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, А12, А35,
АС35Г2, А40Г, АС40, 17ГС,
20ГС
3 HIGH carbon 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 65Г, 70Г, 50000 12000
Steel С62D2-C98D2, 50Р, 55, 60,
У7А, У8А, У8ГА
Steel Type of Steel Specific Steel grades in Production Production
GROUP Izhstal Production Program 125x125 140x180
№ [t] [t]
4 4a: Steel 18ХГ, 18ХГТ, , 25ХГТ, 25ХГМ, 89500 60000
Alloyed with 15ХМ, 20ХМ, 30ХМ, 30ХМА,
Cr/Cr-Si/Cr-Si- 35ХМ, 38ХМ, 38ХМА,
V/Cr-B-Mn 40ХМФА, 25ХГСА, 30ХГС,
30ХГСА, 30ХГСН2А, 35ХГСА,
15Х, 15ХА, 20Х, 30Х, 30ХРА,
35Х, 35ХА, 38ХА, 40Х, 45Х,
50Х, 50ХГ, 20ХГР, 7Х3-9Х1,
15Г, 35Г, 50Г, 10Г2, 40Г2, 17Г-
17ХГ, 35ГС, 20ХГСА
4b: Steel
Alloyed with 20ХНР, 20ХГНР, 20ХГНТР
Cr+Si+Ni
5 Steel Alloyed 15ХФ, 40ХФА, 47ГТ, 24000 40000
with Cr-Mo C3D2-C60D2,
/Cr-Mo-Ni-V-Ti АС38ХГМ, АЦ20ХГНМ
6 Steel for ШХ15, ШХ15СГ, ШХ20СГ, У9А, 2500 9000
Bearings/ У10А, У11А, У12А, У13А
Tools
7 Spring and 33ХС, 38ХС, 40ХС, 55С2, 8000 4000
structutal steel 55С2А, 60С2, 60С2А, 60С2Г,
with Cr-Si 65С2ВА, 70С3А
8 Stainless steel АЦ20ХН, 08Х13, 20Х13, 2000 12000
and 12Х18Н10Т
Cr-Ni steel of
high treatment

For each one of the above groups specific information have been listed in the Operation &
Technological Manual for machine setting-up, casting parameters, and operations details.

The set of information and process data comprises synthetically the following:

 tundish preparation procedures

 tunsish pre-heating cycle& final temperature

 tundish nozzle characteristics

 covering powder type and adding procedure

 mould lubricant (oil or powder) and addition procedure/quantity

 Argon flushing procedure and set data

 mould level set point and regulation


 primary cooling water characteristics and set points

 M-EMS set point data

 oscillation frequency and stroke data

 secondary cooling nozzle set-up

 secondary cooling water characteristics and set points

 F-EMS position and set point data

 bloom exit temperature data

 casting speed data

 cutting torch pressures set points

 cutting torches iron powder set points

 bloom cut length data

 bloom marking code

 bloom weight set point

Some of the data are of course automatically set from the caster control system just by
selecting the steel grade and cast size on the recipes page on HMI.

The operators were in any case free to modify-enter-adjust the set point parameters on the
STS user friendly and very intuitive MHI interface.

And some adjustments were easily made during first testing from Izhstal operators or STS
with the aim of optimizing the bloom quality through fine tuning of set points & parameters
for the specific operative situation faced during performances testing.

The requests of quality were in fact so tight that every aspect of operation and process
was analyzed, tested and finally set for the best result.

A short summary of the guaranteed parameters that have been considered during testing
phase is reported here below.
GUARANTEED PARAMETERS
Type of Parameter Notes
definition of requested number of heats for
Number of heats and sections each cast size for performance tests
definition of the specific steel grades to be
Section sizes and steel grades used for performance tests as selected
General from each group
Parameters
Casting Speed
Casting yield
Productivity tests

SIZE OF CROSS SECTION


FACE BULGING / DEPRESSION
Dimensional RHOMBOIDITY (square sections)
Tolerances
Figures BILLET LENGTH
BILLET STRAIGHTENESS
BILLET TWIST

MACROSTRUCTURE
AXIAL (CENTRE) POROSITY
CENTRE CARBON
Surface SEGREGATION
Quality
EQUIAXED ZONE
Requests
LIGHT CONTOUR (WHITE BAND)
INTERNAL CRACKS
NITROGEN PICK UP

Re-stranding time
Casting Tundish life and sequence
Machine
Tests Mould changing time
Time for section change

Of course all the above guaranteed parameters had to be tested and verified for both cast
sizes and for select specific steel for each steel group.

The steel grades finally selected for testing are reported here below, and are covering
practically each family of steel today in production, represented by the most critical specific
variants.
Specific
Number Billet/Bloom
Steel Steel Grade Casting
Steel Type of Test Section
Group for Test Mode
Heats [mm]
Heats
Medium Carbon 125х125 Open &
2 Steel – Alloyed with 15ХГН2ТА 2 Protected
140х180
Cr Ni and Ti stream
Alloyed Steel – 125х125
Protected
4a Alloyed with Cr Mo V 18ХГТ 2
140х180 stream
and Ti
Spring Steel – 125х125
Protected
7 Alloyed with C and 60С2 2
140х180 stream
Si
Steel for Bearings – 125х125 Protected
6 ШХ15СГ 2
Alloyed with high Cr 140х180 stream
Alloyed Steel – 125х125
Protected
4b Alloyed with Cr Ni 20ХГНТР 2
140х180 stream
and Ti
125х125 Protected
1a Peritectic Steel Св08 2
140х180 stream
125х125 Protected
1a Peritectic Steel 09Г2С 2
140х180 stream
Free Cutting Steel – 125х125 Protected
8 АЦ20ХН 2
Alloyed with hhigh S 140х180 stream
Austenitic Stainless 125х125 Protected
8 12Х18Н9 2
Steel -- stream

And even if the stainless steel was not initially introduced in the steel grades selected for
testing we finally agreed to insert al this for completeness and full satisfaction of both
parties in machine testing.

So the testing period last some months, ad during that period more than 500 heats have
been cast.

The surface quality of the billet was immediately good and only small internal cracks on
some of the more critical grades required some tuning.

Finally all requested figures were met with complete satisfaction.

Typical cross sections of some representative sample blooms are reported here below for
information.
Rectangular Bloom 140x180mm Peritectic Steel Св08

Rectangular Bloom 140x180mm Alloyed Steel – Alloyed with Cr Ni and Ti 20ХГНТР


CONCLUSIONS

The strategic new caster in Izhstal was a challenge for the Mechel group, investing in one
of their most important and historical sites, pushing forward for progress aiming to very
important targets for both production and quality.

The wide range of steel grades to be produced and the high quality targets could had been
out of any doubt the best “test bench” for everybody in this field.

And the challenge was picked up from STS with respect in front of such a big group and
stringent performances requests, but also with the strength and the determination of a
small company full of passion.

STS knows that his standard continuous casting machine, as developed internally since
years, simple, sturdy and maintenance free, could meet the highly demanding requests of
Izhstal.

STS knows also that the flexibility of design of this machine gives the possibility to
accessorize and complete the machinery for the most critical and stringent production and
quality requests.

The so completed casting plant, fully accessorized on demand for this specific project, was
thus installed and started up successfully thanks also to the help of prepared personnel of
Izhstal.

The hot phase and the performance tests took reasonable time to cover the wide range of
steel and casting conditions, and finally all the requests were fulfilled for the complete
satisfaction of the Customer.

This caster is the practical success and example how the long tradition of STS machinery
designed to reduce maintenance and increase reliability can be equipped, even step by
step, with the most advanced features to meet the most critical quality requirements.