___Opportunity often arrives hand-in-hand with its close cousin Serendipity. Such was the case with JDM Steel Service Center, Inc., Chicago Heights, IL, when it installed its new coil-to-coil Smooth Clean Surface (SCS) line at the start of this year in a move that improved the quality of its product.
___First, though, a little background: “We were formerly Northern Industries, a hot-rolled service center in the south suburbs of Chicago for 35 years. Two years ago we moved to Chicago Heights and I bought out my partners, downsized the company, and changed the company name to JDM Steel,” explained Rich Merlo, president. On one hand, we’re relatively new, and on the other we are basically the same group of people with experience in the hot-rolled cut-to-length (c-t-l) business.”
Currently, JDM handles hot-rolled, pickle, some cold-rolled, leveling, shearing in addition to coil-to-coil SCS. As a service center, they also sell slit coil.
___The company that patented SCS, The Material Works in Red Bud, IL (TMW), was looking for a technology comparable to ‘temper pass,’ but after stretcher leveling hot-rolled coils they found the surface was not as attractive as the temper pass product. Use of a 3M Scotch Brite brushing and washing system gave the material a bright shiny finish, but they were applying it to only one side of the coil. They realized that the untreated side of the metal was rusting and the treated side was not. Here’s where close cousin Serendipity enters the picture, and once JDM heard about this discovery, they were quick to adapt.
Rust Inhibiting, By Accident
___The process was removing a couple of layers of scale on the hot-rolled metal, leaving a very tightly bonded layer called wustite, which was acting as a rust inhibitor. Normally, hot rolled scale remains loose and flaky. With the SCS process, you reduce any remaining scale to wustite layer which typically measures between seven to 10 microns.
Taking the technology further, TMW began brushing both sides of the material producing a “…beautiful hot-rolled product that could substitute for a pickle and oil, regular hot-rolled material or even cold-rolled material because it had a shiny surface and is readily paintable, without much preparation, and is rust inhibitive without addition of oil,” emphasized Merlo.
Oil Can Be A Nuisance
___“Most manufacturers are not thrilled with oil, buying oiled material only because it keeps rust off the steel. Some say they like it for its lubrication qualities, but that is somewhat misguided since rust inhibitive oil is not the same as lubricating oil. It doesn’t make much sense to have a rust inhibitive oil on steel because it can create many other problems,” Merlo comments, “so a product that is rust inhibitive without oil is an absolute stroke of luck.”
Spotting an opportunity within the ‘luck,’ JDM was one of the first to install the new SCS coil-cleaning machine, licensed by TMW and manufactured by Red Bud Industries, Red Bud, IL. The SCS process requires a very flat product so that the brushes hit the surface evenly across the width and along the length of the surface. Red Bud’s sheet-to-sheet machines preceded the coil-to-coil technology, which has only been available for the past 1 to 1- 1/2 years. A method had to be developed to get the material flat enough to brush and wash the material and recoil it. That is exactly what this new coil-to-coil line does.
Here’s The Sequence
___The material first goes through a heavy duty Butech-Bliss corrective leveler fitted with two different cartridges, for heavy or light gauge. It is then run through the washing and brushing system, followed by drying and recoiling. Tension is pulled through the corrective leveler, improving the shape of the coil and making further operations easier since you start with a flatter product. “We are putting the coil through the corrective leveler, applying tension, and correcting the shape prior to the washing and brushing cycle in a totally self-contained, environmentally-friendly process, using just plain water and Scotch Brite brushes. The majority of scale washes away through a self-contained filtration system where it magnetically removes iron fines. The water is returned cleaner than when it was introduced, through the patented filter system. The cleaned material is dried in-line and recoiled,” Merlo explains.
___In what Merlo describes as “one of the best line start-ups we’ve ever been involved with,” JDM notes that this new line was installed in January, 2007. In the very early stages of operation, the line was edge trimming as well as running the SCS operation, with very little debugging. Edge trimming is often a value-added operation for customers requiring a cut edge, and this machine trims it on-line. “This feature allows us to skip edge trimming on the c-t-l line, so that our customers can get SCS and edge trimming in one step. For example if you need a 72” wide cut edge on 73” wide material, we can do it,” says Merlo.
___Capabilities of the SCS line range from .030” to .240 “ with widths ranging from 24” to 74” and the c-t-l line from .055” in 16 gauge up to .375 or 3/8”, with widths between 24” and 72.” Lengths range from 60” to 400” depending on the application for customers. The SCS line is strictly coil-to-coil
Serving The OEMs
___JDM supplies material to OEMs who process the metal by punching, stamping, forming or other fabrication methods. Since they will be painting the part, the product must go through their process to make sure it works with their paint system, especially if they are dealing with pickle and oil substrates, usually requiring a heavy cleaning process to remove oil. In that case they would be dealing with absolutely scale-free steel.
___With JDM’s SCS material, they are processing steel with a light layer of scale (the wustite layer) and paint trials have been meeting with great success. One potential limitation, at first glance, involves some flaking of the wustite layer at the inside radius of bends. But the washing system will remove the flaking and the product remains readily paintable.
___For galvanizing or spinning, this is not the best application for those types of product. For most everything else, including tubing, rail cars, parts for tractor-trailers or any painted applications, the material is ideal. Other potential products include concrete saw blades, square and round tubing, electrical boxes to name a few.
___JDM’s new SCS coil-to-coil line is one of the first in the United States. The Material Works and its partner Heidtman operate another line in the Midwest and a third line is about to start up in Ohio.
___Merlo concludes: “We took a leap of faith and are hoping for some great results from our new process. Our mission is to get people to change the way they do things, and that is not always quick or easy. But the fact that other major players are investing in the SCS technology is an extremely encouraging sign, and once the word gets out, communicating the advantages of SCS will be easier.”