Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Steel. . .
But Were Afraid to Ask


Copyright Michelle Applebaum Research, Inc
2003-2006
All rights reserved.
June 2006
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

S

SAWING 3
Cutting metal into customer specified lengths, shapes, or sizes.
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SCALE
The oxide of iron that forms on the surface of steel after heating.  
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SCRAP (FERROUS)
Ferrous (iron-containing) material that generally is remelted and recast into new steel.  
Integrated steel mills use scrap for up to 25% of their basic oxygen furnace charge; 100% of the
mini-mills’ raw material for their electric furnaces generally is scrap.  

Home Scrap
Waste steel that is generated from within the steel mill, through edge trimming and rejects.  It
normally is sent directly back to the furnace.  

Prompt (Industrial) Scrap
Excess steel that is trimmed by the auto and appliance stampers and auctioned to scrap buyers
as factory bundles.  This is a high-quality scrap as the result of its low-residual content and
consistent chemistry.  

Obsolete Scrap
Iron-bearing items such as old automobiles; household appliances; farm, office, and industrial
equipment; ships and railroad cars; buildings and bridges that have completed their useful life
which can be recovered from the junkyard and remelted.  The residual impurity of such scrap
normally relegates obsolete scrap to the mini-mills (see No. 1 Heavy Melt).  
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SCRAP SUBSTITUTE
Raw material that can be charged in place of scrap in electric arc furnaces and basic oxygen
furnaces.  Scrap substitutes include, among others, DRI, HBI, iron carbide, and pig iron.  
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SCRUBBER 2
An air pollutant device that reduces the temperature of an emission – a liquid spray is used to
remove pollutants from a gas stream by absorbtion or chemical reaction.
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SEAMLESS PIPE
Pipe made from a solid billet, which is heated, then rotated under extreme pressure.  This
rotational pressure creates an opening in the center of the billet, which is then shaped by a
mandrel to form pipe.  
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SECONDARY STEEL
Steel that does not meet the original customer’s specifications because of a defect in its
chemistry, gauge or surface quality.  Mills must search to find another customer (that can accept
the lower quality) to take the off-spec steel at a discount.  While secondary will not affect the
reported yield, margins will suffer.  
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SEMI-FINISHED STEEL
Steel shapes — for example, blooms, billets, or slabs — that later are rolled into finished
products such as beams, bars, or sheet.
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SENDZIMIR MILL (Z-MILL)

What?
Compact mill used for rolling cold coils of stainless steel in order to make the steel thinner,
smoother, and stronger.  

Why?
To control the thickness of steel better at lower capital cost, and to roll thinner sheets and
strips.  

How?
Stainless steel sheet or strip passes between a matching pair of small work rolls with extremely
smooth surfaces, heavily reinforced by clusters of back-up rolls.  The rolls reduce the steel to
the desired thickness.  
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SERVICE CENTER
A catchall name for an operation that buys steel, often processes it in some way and then sells
it in a slightly different form.  A service center is distinguished from an end-user by the fact that,
unlike an end-user, a service center sells steel, not a fabricated product.  Service centers are
manufacturers to the extent that they add labor to steel by providing a service.  
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SHAPE CORRECTING
Rolling, heating, and quenching steel sheets often affect the dimensions of the steel.  Levelers,
temper mills, and edge trimmers rework the processed steel to match customer specifications.  
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SHEARING
If the edges of sheet and strip are not controlled during reduction, they must be trimmed parallel
by shears.  This process may be performed by either the steel mill or steel processor to match
customer needs.  
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SHEET STEEL
Thin, flat-rolled steel.  Coiled sheet steel accounts for nearly one-half of all steel shipped
domestically and is created in a hot-strip mill by rolling a cast slab flat while maintaining the
side dimensions.  The malleable steel lengthens to several hundred feet as it is squeezed by
the rolling mill.  
The most common differences among steel bars, strip, plate, and sheet are merely their
physical dimensions of width and gauge (thickness).
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SHREDDED SCRAP
Fist-sized, homogenous pieces of old automobile hulks.  After cars are sent through a shredder,
the recyclable steel is separated by magnets.  Mini-mills consume shredded scrap in their
electric arc furnace operations.  
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SILICON ELECTRICAL STEEL
A type of specialty steel created by introducing silicon during the steelmaking process.  
Electrical steel exhibits certain magnetic properties, which make it optimum for use in
transformers, power generators, and electric motors.  

Grain-Oriented
The metal’s grain runs parallel within the steel, permitting easy magnetization along the length
of the steel.  Although grain-oriented steel may be twice as expensive to produce, its magnetic
directional characteristics enable power transformers, made from this metal, to absorb less
energy during operation.  

Non-Grain-Oriented
Because there is no preferential direction for magnetization, non-grain-oriented steel is best
used in rotating apparatus such as electric motors.  
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SINTERING
A process that combines iron-bearing particles, once recovered from environmental control
filters, into small pellets.  Previously, these materials were too fine to withstand the air currents
of the smelting process and were thrown away.  The iron is now conserved because the chunks
can be charged into the blast furnace (see Agglomerating Processes).  
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SKELP
Steel that is the entry material to a pipe mill.  It resembles hot-rolled strip, but its properties
allow for the severe forming and welding operations required for pipe production.  
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SKIN MILLING 3
Grinds the top and/or bottom of a large aluminum plate into close tolerance.
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SLAB
The most common type of semi-finished steel.  Traditional slabs measure ten inches thick and
30–85 inches wide (and average about 20 feet long), while the output of the recently developed
“thin-slab” casters is approximately two inches thick.  Subsequent to casting, slabs are sent to
the hot-strip mill to be rolled into coiled sheet and plate products.  
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SLAG
The impurities in a molten pool of iron.  Flux such as limestone may be added to foster the
congregation of undesired elements into a slag.  Because slag is lighter than iron, it will float on
top of the pool, where it can be skimmed.  
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SLITTING
Cutting a sheet of steel into narrower strips to match customer needs.  Because steel mills
have limited flexibility as to the widths of the sheet that they produce, service centers normally
will cut the sheet for the customer.  
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SPANGLE 1
Finish achieved when zinc is allowed to “freeze” naturally on the sheet – galvanize.  Achieved by
adding antimony to the hot dip bath.
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SPECIAL BAR QUALITY (SBQ)
SBQ represents a wide variety of higher quality carbon and alloy bars that are used in the
forging, machining, and cold-drawing industries for the production of automotive parts, hand
tools, electric motor shafts, and valves.  SBQ generally contains more alloys than merchant
quality and commodity grades of steel bars, and is produced with more precise dimensions
and chemistry.  
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SPECIALTY STEEL
Category of steel that includes electrical (see Silicon Electrical Steel), alloy (see Alloy Steel),
stainless (see Stainless Steel), and tool steels (see Tool Steels).
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SPECIALTY TUBE
Refers to a wide variety of high-quality custom-made tubular products requiring critical
tolerances, precise dimensional control and special metallurgical properties.  Specialty tubing
is used in the manufacture of automotive, construction, and agricultural equipment, and in
industrial applications such as hydraulic cylinders, machine parts, and printing rollers.  
Because of the range of industrial applications, the market typically follows general economic
conditions.  
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SPOT MARKET
Sales for delivery in less than three months.  
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STAINLESS STEEL
The term for grades of steel that contain more than 10% chromium, with or without other alloying
elements.  Stainless steel resists corrosion, maintains its strength at high temperatures, and is
easily maintained.  For these reasons, it is used widely in items such as automotive and food
processing products, as well as medical and health equipment.  The most common grades of
stainless steel are:  

Type 304
The most commonly specified austenitic (chromium-nickel stainless class) stainless steel,
accounting for more than half of the stainless steel produced in the world.  This grade
withstands ordinary corrosion in architecture, is durable in typical food processing
environments, and resists most chemicals.  Type 304 is available in virtually all product forms
and finishes.

Type 316
Austenitic (chromium-nickel stainless class) stainless steel containing 2%–3% molybdenum
(whereas 304 has none).  The inclusion of molybdenum gives 316 greater resistance to various
forms of deterioration.

Type 409
Ferritic (plain chromium stainless category) stainless steel suitable for high temperatures.  This
grade has the lowest chromium content of all stainless steels and thus is the least expensive.  

Type 410
The most widely used martensitic (plain chromium stainless class with exceptional strength)
stainless steel, featuring the high level of strength conferred by the martensitics.  It is a low-cost,
heat-treatable grade suitable for non-severe corrosion applications.  

Type 430
The most widely used ferritic (plain chromium stainless category) stainless steel, offering
general-purpose corrosion resistance, often in decorative applications.
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STATISTICAL PROCESS CONTROL (SPC)
A technique used to predict when a steelmaking function’s quality may deteriorate.  By tightly
monitoring the product’s variance from specifications, the operator can determine when to apply
preventative maintenance to a machine before any low-quality (secondary) steel is produced.  
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STECKEL MILL
A reversing steel sheet reduction mill with heated coil boxes at each end.  Steel sheet or plate is
sent through the rolls of the reversing mill and coiled at the end of the mill, reheated in the coil
box, and sent back through the Steckel stands and recoiled.  By reheating the steel prior to each
pass, the rolls can squeeze the steel thinner per pass and impart a better surface finish.
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STEEL INTENSITY
The amount of steel used per unit of gross domestic product.  Intensity reflects the secular
demand for steel, as opposed to cyclical demand.  The amount of steel used in vehicles and the
popularity of alternative materials affect the intensity, or how much steel is needed per unit
produced.  The state of the economy, however, determines the number of units.
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STEEL-INTENSIVE PRODUCTS
Consumer products such as automobiles and appliances that, because so much of their
weight is from steel, exhibit a high demand correlation with steel.
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STEEL SERVICE CENTER INVENTORIES
End-of-period material stocks reported by the Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI).  
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STEEL STRAPPING
Banding and packaging material that is used to close and reinforce shipping units, such as
bales, boxes, cartons, coils, crates, and skids.  
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STRENGTH
Properties related to the ability of steel to oppose applied forces.  Forms of strength include
withstanding imposed loads without a permanent change in shape or structure and resistance
to stretching.  
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STRESS CORROSION CRACKING (SCC)
Slow growth of cracks in stainless steel caused by the combined effect of mechanical stress
and exposure to a corrosive environment.  
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STRIP
Thin, flat steel that resembles hot-rolled sheet, but it is normally narrower (up to 12 inches wide)
and produced to more closely controlled thicknesses.  Strip also may be cut from steel sheet by
a slitting machine (see Sheet Steel).  
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STRUCTURALS
Steel product group that includes I-beams, H-beams, wide-flange beams, and sheet piling.  
These products are used in the construction of multi-story buildings, industrial buildings, bridge
trusses, vertical highway supports, and riverbank reinforcement.  
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SUBSTRATE
Raw material used as an input for steel processing:  For example, hot-rolled steel is the
substrate for cold-rolling operations.  
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SUPERALLOY 5
An alloy, usually based on nickel, cobalt, or iron, developed for high temperature service where
relatively severe mechanical stressing is encountered and where high surface stability is
frequently required.  
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SUPER STAINLESS STEEL 5
Stainless steel alloys with significant additions of chromium, nickel, molybdenum, or copper.  
Super stainless steel is used in chemical processing, petroleum refining, marine, heat treating,
pollution, and waste control industries where there are requirements for extra corrosion
protection, strength, or heat resistance.  
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SUSPENSION AGREEMENT
A resolution of an unfair trade dispute that can suspend further proceedings in an unfair trade
suit.  The U.S. government, in consultation with the domestic industry, can enter into such an
agreement with the foreign industry.
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Source: Weirton Steel Glossary

Source: Dofasco Glossary of Terms

Source: Reliance Steel 10-K

Source: BlueScope Steel Glossary of Terms

Source: Allegheny Technologies 10-K

Source: Alcoa 10-K

Source: Alcan 10-K
                                                                  

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Steel Market Intelligence