Through its new operations, Ruukki will offer its high-strength Optim and wear-resistant Raex steels. Optim reduces energy costs for various products and is ideal for frame structures, said the company. Raex has impact toughness and is well suited for high-wear applications on mining equipment.
Kevin Kale will oversee Ruukki USA. He is targeting mining applications and planning to work with service centers and the mines directly. “Many times miners find that they can use the Raex and Optum steels in combination to gain abrasion resistance while reducing weight and increasing strength at the same time,” Kale said.
Even though the steel is sourced from Finland, customers will not pay a premium because freight rates are so low. These types of specialty steel products have a longer sales cycle than commodity grade steels, Kale explained. “Ruukki will stock all the materials the service center would require,” Kale said.
Ruukki is a major player globally in the extra- and ultra-high strength steel market. They have developed and implemented a DQ system. Rather than moving the steel to another part of the mill to quench, material coming through the line goes into a DQ at the end of the line. DQ produces very thin, strong material with a better steel structure — tight tolerances and an excellent surface finish.
“On a DQ line, we can take the coils and cut them on a temper mill,” Kale said. “Ruukki has the only steel mill in Europe that has a temper passing cut-to-length line. The material coming through that process is ‘dead flat.’ I’m not saying plate product is not good, it’s just that we have a better manufacturing method.” Using DQ, Ruukki can produce thin steels (2-mm to ¼-in.) with plate properties.
“On the strip steel side, we also use DQ and that produces a 130-, 140- and 160-ksi product and that was unheard of only a few years ago,” Kale said. “Ruukki was the first to do this in 2002.” Kale said that by reducing the thickness, miners can reduce the weight by 20% to 50% depending on the application.