We decided to go on a field trip to see some steel being made. Why? Mainly because its really interesting, and not something that you would normally ever get to see. Luckily, I had a personal connection to Peter Birtles, the ex-MD and now non-exec Director of Sheffield Forgemasters, and he kindly agreed to show a small group of us around.
This is the company we went to visit - Forgemasters - over 200 years of making things out of steel. They make the most complex and advanced steel products - casings for nuclear reactors, massive, mission critical structural components for oil rigs. That sort of thing. We had to get security clearence before we could have the tour.
On the trip was me () and Ian () and Jaimes () and Jonathan ()
The train ride was mainly focused on a coffee situation that Ian had
When we got there Peter gave us a quick intro to the company, we had to watch a health and safety video, and then we had to change into flame proof clothing. At this point we realised this was the best tour ever.
As we walked to the forge this massive piece of steel rolled past us.
The first thing we went to see was the forge. This is where huge 400 ton ingots of steel are heated and hammered (forged) into different shapes, normally rolls. The shape of the raw ingot, the hammering routine, the shape of the hammer and other things affect the fundamental quality of the final steel. Forgemasters are leaders in manipulating these variable to produce the highest grade steel in the world.
Here's the ingot coming out of the furnace and being picked up by a massive claw. This thing is as big as a bus.
Here's the ingot being rolled using a chain, as it is being hammered by the massive press.
After watching the forging process we went to the foundry to see where the raw ingots are produced.