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Hacker, Robert W. (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer
Volume 53, Number 4 (January 1949)

Pipkorn, Russell
[Continuous casting],   pp. 6-8

Page 7

by Russell Pipkorn m'49
  From molten steel to semi-finished steel billets in a sim-
ple inexpensive machine at the rate of 400 pounds a min-
ute is the story now being enacted at the plant of Babcock
& Wilcox Tube Co. at Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. All of
the operations take place in a 75 foot tower taking up ap-
proximately 1100 square feet. This development, a joint
project of Babcock & Wilcox and Republic Steel Corpora-
tion, has opened new paths of solution for the objectives
of the steel industry-greater decentralization and increas-
ed productivity.
  The first carload of rolled bars made from continuously
cast billets was shipped March 18, 1948-a date which no
doubt will be remembered in the steel industry for a long
time. This first batch consisted of 45 tons of 0.15 carbon
steel. It was not, however, the first that had been cast,
since several years of research and development had gone
into this plant, and many experimental runs of both carbon
and alloy steels were tried.
              Advantages of New Method
  The greatest gain in this method is the reduction in
capital required for equipment. In the conventional meth-
od, ingots are first cast and allowed to cool. A sizable dis-
card is removed and the ingot reheated in soaking pits
where millions of B.t.u.'s are absorbed. Then the ingots
are hammered, pressed or rolled into semi-finished shapes
requiring gigantic blooming or slabbing mills. All this
equipment requires acres of floor area for casting and semi-
finishing. The continuous casting setup requires only a
small space and a very much smaller investment in equip-
ment. Thus this development fills the requirements of low
capital, particularly in these days of doubled or tripled
costs, and low operational costs.
  Economic pressure on the steel making industry has
influenced this idea of smaller local units serving a par-
ticular area. Mr. T. W. Lippert of Iron Age has illus-
trated this idea. "Population areas of some two million
people normally can consume in small-section products-
flats, wires, rods, shapes, etc.-from 7,500 to 15,000 tons of
steel monthly in the immediate locality. This would be
an attractive load for a small mill. Furthermore the scrap
generated in the same area would normally be quite suf-
ficient to sustain operations in the same plant." Continu-
ous casting fulfills this need of decentralized operation.
             Continuous Casting Not New
  Continuous casting is now being successfully used in
production for casting non-ferrous metals, and has been
a routine industrial practice for the past ten years. The
art began over one hundred years ago, in 1843 when J.
Laing received a patent on a machine casting soft metal
tubing in a mold containing a vibrating mandrel. Its suc-
cess is doubtful, but the idea was there to be carried on.
Through numerous developments and ideas, some suc-
cesses and many failures, today's simple, fast and fool-
proof continuous casting machines for non-ferrous metals
are available. These machines have progressed from mas-
sive complex-machines to those used today, relatively in-
expensive and very simple.
  The heart of the entire operation is the mold into which
the metal is poured. Because of the low melting tempera-
tures and relative prices the continuous casting process first
developed for production in the non-ferrous field. Solids
of many cross sections and many materials are cast today-
from one inch copper rods to 6 x 24 inch aluminum slab
ingots. The non-ferrous machine casts the metal through
a short water cooled mold usually not over a foot in
length. Water is sprayed on the billet below the mold to
prevent the billet from softening again due to the still
molten interior some distance below the mold.
  This operation is generally performed on a 24 hour
basis. It is clean and orderly as compared to old methods.
The metal is actually of superior metallurgical quality and
Schematic drawing of the main elements of the continuous
casting equipment as now set up.

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