Steel is known as the ‘Industrial Rice’ and has been driving our civilization. It is also what makes our lives more enriching in our present world. The convenience and the safety of steel have become so natural and obvious for us, and several misconceptions and fake information about the material has been on the spread lately. Are all of them true? Find out as POSCO Newsroom looks into the misconceptions and truth of steel. Now, let’s get started!
1. Steel Is Cold? Steel Is Warm!
When you see the word “steel,” a cold grey or silver metal might be the first thing on your mind. Its grey color gives you little chills, and the same goes for the silvery stainless steel as well. However, surprisingly, steel is warm. From its start, steel is made in a furnace that reaches 1,500°C. Of course, it turns into a cold metal after going through the cooling process, but steel can spread warmth when colored with warm colors.
The color steel plate easily seen around us is one good example. Color steel plates are made by coating steel plates with the desired color and paint. After the coating, the steel plates are heated and dried and then used as final products. They are used in various fields, including construction materials, home appliances, and office equipment. POSCO has taken a step further by introducing PosART, a premium color steel sheet that is capable of displaying perfect full coloring as well as 3D textures.
When high-resolution inkjet printing technology meets steel, it becomes PosART. PosART is known for its high-resolution, which is at least four times higher than that of other regular print steel plates. This feature enables PosART to become a true art piece. World-famous paintings can be printed on it as well as large-sized photographs — like the exterior walls of Pengsoo House, which POSCO built for EBS star Pengsoo. And this is just the beginning. PosART is also capable of emulating patterns and textures of various materials, including marble, wood, and fabric. This innovative technology even earned POSCO the worldsteel Steelie Awards ‘Innovation of the Year’ last year. You can meet the actual beauty of PosART at “The Sharp Gallery” in Seoul.
2. Steel Is Expensive? Steel Is Economical!
Iron (Fe) is the fourth most abundant element on the planet, and owing to its rich reserves, quite economical as well. The price per ton of cold rolled steel coil, a typical steel product, is around 750,000 KRW. Bottled water sold in stores is usually about 750 KRW per 500ml, which means that one ton equals to 1,500,000 KRW, about twice the price of steel. Steel’s other competing material, aluminum, reaches 1,700~2,000 USD per ton, while steel products amount to less than half of that.
3. Steel Is Heavy? Steel Is Light!
Steel is often considered heavy, large, and solid. When asked to name things made of steel, most people would reply with massive structures like cars, ships, rails, machinery, and buildings. Though this is true, many would be surprised to learn that steel is also used widely in small, light, and thin objects. You can find steel in home appliances and furniture, as well as in smartphones and tumblers. As observed here, steel is huge and heavy, but at the same time, small and light as well!
Steel is becoming lighter yet stronger as the development of materials continues. POSCO’s Advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) like GIGA Steel is one example. POSCO developed GIGA Steel as an automotive material for the future, and this amazing ultra-strong steel can withstand more than 100 kg per ㎟. Simply put, this means that a 10-won coin-sized GIGA Steel is enough to withstand a 25-ton truck! POSCO GIGA Steel is three times (and more) stronger than the aluminum used to make automotive bodies, so an automotive made with GIGA Steel can be three times thinner — and yet equally strong.
4. Steel Industry = Old-fashioned Industry? Steel Industry = High-tech Industry!
Boiling blast furnaces, towering chimneys, and gigantic cranes are all a common sight at steelworks, so the steel industry has long been considered as an old-fashioned industry. However, the steel industry is actually a high-tech industry embracing the core technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, such as AI, Big Data, and IoT.
The smart technology has not only helped control the steelmaking process and manage product quality but also secure the safety of workers at POSCO. POSCO has gone further and has been transferring its Smart Factory technology to over 100 SMEs through its support service. As a result of the company’s shared growth activities and smart factory establishment, POSCO was named as a ‘Lighthouse Factory’ for the first time in Korea.
5. Steel Industry = Smokestack Industry? Steel Industry = Sustainable!
The steel industry utilizes natural resources and processes them and supplies them as materials for major industries such as automotive, home appliances, and machinery. For this reason, the steel industry was labeled as a smokestack industry. However, the steel industry is actually a sustainable industry that saves the earth.
The recycling rate for steel is significantly higher than in other materials. According to worldsteel, steel has a recycling rate of 85%, making it the most recycled material in the world. The recycling rate of plastic is a mere 3~5%. Over 98% of the co-products of the steelmaking process are also recycled. Steel slag is used to make cement, fertilizers, and sea forests, while coal tar is used as a material for EV batteries. 90% of process gases are transformed to heat energy and electricity as well. As such, steel is a sustainable material that does not leave any waste behind — from beginning to end.
So far, we’ve looked into the misconceptions and truths of steel. We learned that steel is filled with warm colors and is light yet strong. Steel was actually saving the earth, and POSCO steelworks were driving the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. So many things we did not know about steel! If you want to learn more about the charms that steel has to offer, do not miss the latest news at POSCO Newsroom!