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Best Innovation: Product

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Gerdau Long Steel North America/Dywidag-Systems International USA, Inc
Owing to ASTM A722 specification #46 mm Threadbar® not being produced in the US, Dywidag-Systems International USA Inc. (DSI) approached Gerdau to develop the first domestically produced #46 mm continuous threaded bar to meet the standards.

Previously, #46 mm Threadbar was either imported or produced as a quench and tempered smooth round. The quench and tempered process does not meet the A722 specification, which requires the bar to be cold stretched. This forced potential customers towards imports, which, in turn, limited DSI’s ability to bid for ‘Buy America’ contracts.

After the successful joint-launch by Gerdau and DSI of ASTM A615 Grade 100 in numerous sizes, DSI approached Gerdau to produce a #46 mm Grade 150 Threadbar that would meet ASTM A722 specifications.

Gerdau reviewed its production capabilities and determined that, with investment to modify existing equipment, its St. Paul, Minnesota mill, was best suited to the development and production of the new Threadbar. The process required an in-depth knowledge of micro-alloying and processing as well as a sampling and testing plan. As the goal was a stretched product, the team used a tensile machine as a test stretcher – not to stretch to failure, but to mimic the stretch process.

Gerdau now has an exclusive agreement with DSI to produce Threadbar, including the #46 mm size, which meets ASTM specifications for the civil construction market. This differentiating product avoids the stresses of cold rolling threads and is produced at a lower cost because of a simpler production process.

Gerdau and DSI is the first partnership to offer the product in the US, and this innovative product provides the civil construction industry with the required properties of the A722 specification as well as ‘Buying American’.

Gerdau Special Steel North America
Gerdau Special Steel’s objective is to be the premier supplier of safety-critical SBQ engineered steering rack blanks for electric power steering (EPS) systems in North America. This requires specialized equipment with exacting process capabilities and highly trained manufacturing experts, which result in higher-quality engineered steel bars that support the challenging performance expectations of EPS system users.

The quality standards required for EPS system applications are much higher than requirements previously needed for hydraulic steering systems. Until this product innovation, there were only a couple of North American-based EPS rack blank suppliers.

In 2012, Gerdau decided to invest in its heat treating facility in Huntington, Indiana, and purchased $27 million of equipment to bring the processes under one roof to better serve the market. In doing so, Gerdau has created a single source and process for safety-critical EPS rack blanks that is cost effective and provides superior product quality.

Gerdau has successfully implemented a new, efficient and cost-effective steering rack blank manufacturing process that has been widely accepted by steering systems manufacturers who supply OEMs. Approximately 25% of the world’s steering rack blanks are now produced under one roof in North America by Gerdau, allowing US OEMs to source product domestically with shorter lead times and reduced costs.

The program has been so successful that Gerdau added an additional line in 2016 to better serve the growing market.

TMEIC Corporation
When upgrading a drive system there used to be two choices – stay with DC drives and motors or completely upgrade to more efficient AC drives and motors. Now there is a dual-purpose drive capable of powering AC or DC motors and shortening outage times.

The TMEIC TMdrive®-10e2-DP is a dual-purpose drive suitable for powering DC motors or AC motors. It is based on the TMdrive family of 10e2 inverters and 10e2-DDC technology.

The TMdrive10e2-DP is intended for use in modernization projects where existing DC motors will be retained. It has been demonstrated that a new AC drive system can be deployed to power and control a combination of existing DC motors and new AC motors. This arrangement reduces the initial investment in new AC motors and can significantly reduce the changeover outage time while providing a future upgrade path to AC for the remaining DC motors.

The TMdrive-10e2-DP has the advantage of common hardware for both the AC and DC motors and an easy upgrade from DC to AC at a future date. It provides the riskless option of replacing individual DC motors over time with new, more-efficient AC motors.

The solution utilizes a common AC-DC converter in a DC Bus lineup of standard IGBT PWM inverter packages. All auxiliary equipment associated with the DC application, filters, contactors and other specifics for the particular application are included in a separate cabinet mounted in a convenient location, and can be discarded when the motor is changed to AC sometime in the future. The firmware that makes a normal AC drive capable of controlling a DC motor is then loaded into the respective drives.

TMEIC's technology has been successfully applied by Steel Dynamics, Inc, Butler Flat Roll Division.

TimkenSteel Corporation
When an industrial, automotive or energy application calls for the strongest, toughest materials to get the job done, TimkenSteel says it has a solution. The company’s Endurance family of steels, including three new, ultra-high-strength, high-toughness grades, provide longer life, more power and/or lighter weight in engineered components.

TimkenSteel began developing its three new Endurance grades in late 2016 and progress continued throughout last year. The first commercial production heats were melted in late December 2017 and January 2018.

Laboratory experiments proved the new grades achieve ultra-high yield strength between 180 and 210 KSI and high toughness between 35 and 50 ft-lbs in impact energy. The three grades are conventionally heat-treated by quenching and tempering around 400° Fahrenheit. Two have a nominal carbon content of 0.25% by weight (wt%) and one has 0.3 wt% carbon.

The medium carbon content allows these steels to be quenched aggressively with less concern for quench cracking commonly associated with 0.4% wt% carbon and higher steels. In addition, it allows for these steels to be applied to carburizing applications such as gears and similar carburized power-transmission components.

The alloys can achieve the desired strength and toughness combinations at the mid-radius position of a water-quenched bar for bars from 8in to 13in in diameter, depending on the alloy. Laboratory rotational bending fatigue tests show the new alloys achieve fatigue strength of 135 to 160 KSI, depending on the alloy.

Finally, the new alloys see only limited loss of Charpy impact energy at low temperatures, making them ideally suited for cold, high-altitude aerospace and military applications, or arctic mining or oil and gas operations.

The three new grades have the potential to grow substantially within the energy, industrial and automotive markets, while the previously existing grades make up as much as 50% of TimkenSteel’s product offerings.

Trinity Products, LLC
Trinity has spent the past 18 months working on Tri-Loc, a new ‘weldless’ interlock connection for pipe used in the micro-tunneling and auger boring industries.

Working with the Trenchless Technology Center (TTC) at Louisiana Tech, Trinity has developed a quality, low-cost, weldless connection product for end-users such as contractors.

After the completion of testing in February 2017, Trinity began the process of convincing forward-thinking companies to try the product. The first company to work with Trinity was micro-tunneling business Bradshaw Construction.

Bradshaw Construction performed its own in-house testing on Tri-Loc, providing both itself and Trinity with answers needed to questions posed by the potential use of the product in the micro-tunneling industry.

The next part of the process was partnering with a customer that installs pipe by using the auger boring method. While the use of ‘weldless’ connected pipe is common in the micro-tunneling industry, it has not been so in boring. Midwest Mole, a national boring company based in Greenfield, Indiana, agreed to use Trinity’s Tri-Loc on a test project for the Canadian Pacific Railroad Company.
During this test project, Trinity learnt that in the auger boring applications there is less friction when engaging the male/female interlocks, which can make it difficult to install. With the help of Midwest Mole and TTC, Trinity developed a new design for auger boring applications – Tri-Loc AB-1 (Auger Bore-AB).

Trinity believes the newly designed interlock connection – Tri-Loc AB-1 – will revolutionize how certain auger boring is done throughout the United States. One of the single largest costs on any auger boring project is labor hours spent welding. The reduction of that cost could provide ‘game-changing’ outcomes for all those in the industry.

Trinity believes Tri-Loc has huge growth potential in auger boring and micro-tunneling.

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