How Steel Is Made & What It's Made Of

Steel isn’t a material you can pull out of the ground. Structural steel production involves mixing carbon and iron at extremely high temperatures to create specific material properties like tensile strength and increased hardness. Although all steel is primarily made from iron, steel alloys can contain other elements like nickel, molybdenum, manganese, titanium, boron, cobalt, or vanadium.

Brief History of Steel

How Steel is Made

The steel industry first took off in Australia after the discovery of iron ore deposits in South Australia. Unfortunately, due to its poor quality and a lack of technical ability, it was considered inferior to the British steel imported from the Commonwealth. It wasn’t until 1901 when the Australian father of steel production, William Stratford, started up the first blast furnace outside Lithgow. Followed closely by Newcastle, Port Kembla and Whyalla, steel production would go from producing 4.6 million tonnes in 1963 to 10 million tonnes in 1981.

The Steel Production Process

The steel production process begins by smelting iron ore to produce metallic iron, which is then converted to steel by removing excess carbon and adding various alloys in a furnace. It is then constantly cast and rolled into a variety of shapes for different purposes and applications.

Cold Rolled Steel

Cold rolled steel is hot rolled steel that has been subjected to further processing. Once cooled, it is then re-rolled at room temperature to meet the required measurements to produce lintels, piping, roof flashing, drains & guttering, purlins and formwork products.

Steel Manufacturing in Australia

The Australian steel industry depends on its supply chain, which covers everything from raw material inputs, crude steel and steel products to manufacturing and end-use demand for steel products. There are over 12,000 registered steel businesses in Australia as of June 2014, made up primarily of smaller iron smelters and downstream steel manufacturers and fabricators, including a network of over 160 steel distribution and warehouse premises.

According to the Bureau of Steel Manufacturers of Australia, steel reinforcement and associated steels used in concrete buildings and structures and structural steel and associated steels used in steel framed buildings and structures are currently the most significant market sectors for steel production.

Steel Builders source most of our structural steel locally from our Adelaide mill in Whyalla and various overseas suppliers. We order everything from structural steel, hot rolled steel, universal beams, universal columns, square hollow sections, rectangular hollow sections, plates, angles, flats, along with fabricated T-bars and lintels that are cold rolled from steel coils.

Download the Steel Builders guide for hot-rolled steel products for more information on steel in residential construction.