INNOVATION WITH SMART PRODUCTION: SIMULATION AND DIGITALIZATION OF PROCESSES

Discover examples of how our engineers work on product development 4.0

Simulation of materials behavior and production processes using data analytics and computational tools is the integral part of modern metallurgy. Through-process simulation not only helps us as a specialty steel producer to design tailor-made products with a pre-defined range of property combinations, but also enables them to have digital twins of the actual manufacturing steps with all the stress, temperature, and time inputs included.

Digital twins as the basis for product development

These digital twins are used in tuning various metallurgical processes involved in the production of high-performing products and alloys chosen for the increasingly complex and highly demanding end use applications.

Being able to tell the customer the characteristics of the finished product beforehand

The SCHMOLZ + BICKENBACH Group have always been at the forefront of applying the most advanced simulation and modeling techniques for

  • Product development

  • Production planning

  • Quality improvement operations worldwide

The colleagues in our interdisciplinary technical teams contribute extensive knowledge from physics, process metallurgy and data sciences. We also maintain long-term partnerships with academic institutions and technology providers in Europe and North America.  Over the past ten years, we have continuously developed our group's capacities in material and process simulation.

Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics: How we further optimize the purity of the steel

One goal in steelmaking is to produce the finished product free of all unwanted impurities and inclusions. One process step is the casting of the steel into ingots at the continuous casting plant. This is where our developers take a closer look. Using a simulation method of SHP, Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics, they can better understand the behavior of molten metal.

Most liquid metal flows involve complex free surfaces and several simultaneous phases: metal, slag, gas. Conventional numerical simulation has reached maturity in describing complex coupling between different phenomena like fluid flow, heat transfer, phase change, etc.

But it reaches its limits when dealing with complex topologies, such as liquid jets, multiphase flows, interaction with solids, floating. The emergent SHP methods, now available on highly powerful GPU’s (Graphics Processing Unit in computers), allow for industrial scale flow simulations.

Our business unit Ugitech is currently evaluating the transient flows within a continuous casting tundish, at the ladle opening, in order to minimize oxygen pick-up, and optimize steel cleanness.

Background image: Liquid steel flow during tundish filling, simulated with SPH (Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics)

Corrosion free reinforcement steel with high performance: Development of rolls for cold rolling

Special steels such as corrosion free ribbed reinforcement steel can be produced using the cold rolling process with particularly tight tolerances. This process therefore has advantages over hot rolling.

However, the guide rollers in the rolling mill must meet other requirements here. As part of a project on numerical simulation optimization of duplex reinforcing steel bars, our Ugitech business unit implemented this.

The Ugitech research center has developed new geometries of rollers to produce concrete reinforcing bars by a cold way. This was possible thanks to the development of a theoretical model capable of automatically generating some rollers geometry that meet the requirements of the standards. This work has saved time by retaining only the viable geometries with respect to the standards.

These selected geometries were then tested by numerical simulation with Forge® software to predict if, the quality of the notches and the mechanical characteristics of the bars, respect the standards.

The result: our customers can rely on cold-rolled products with very precise dimensions and a perfectly ripped surface.








Optimum process reliability: Integration of all production line systems into computer-controlled systems

Finite Element Method for optimized ingot geometry and material flow

The final quality of a forged product is strongly dependent on the raw product. Various factors influence the quality of this raw product. One of these factors is the geometry of the ingot mold and thus also the flow behavior of the material during casting.

Our Ascometal and Finkl Steel business units use the finite element method (FEM) to simulate the optimal ingot mold for ingot casting.

For example, one of the current challenges for numerical simulation is to correctly predict macro-segregation both for ingots and for continuous casting products. With a quantitative description of macro-segregation phenomena in our products, we hope to find new levers to make more homogeneous ingots or blooms.



In the example of Finkl Steel, the solidification process of ingots with a large diameter (> 1.6 m diameter) was simulated with the Thercast® FEM software. Critical information such as alloying element distribution (macro-segregation), solidification time, air gap, shrinkage, liquid content and liquid movement were determined.

Simulation leads to better product quality

Based on the simulation results, the influence of different casting conditions such as casting temperature and mold temperature as well as block geometries (mold thickness, hot top size, etc.) was tested and validated on an industrial scale.

Significant quality improvements could be implemented through the simulations. This enables us to guarantee our customers a homogeneous product with excellent quality for further processing.

INFORMATION

Links to the above mentioned Business Units:

Ugitech

Deutsche Edelstahlwerke

Finkl Steel

Ascometal

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