Steel Production At Salzgitter AG

Vulcan's Den: The Making of Steel

Take a look at how your metal gets made.

Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

Metal making has been the stuff of myth and legends for millennia. Fiery and steaming, molten and glowing, the process of crafting the strongest materials on earth has an intimidating beauty. Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and metal, would be at home here in this steel plant in Salzgitter, Germany..

To create steel, manufacturers start with iron ore and add in coke (the fuel, not the beverage) and lime (the stone, not the garnish). These three components are melted in a blast furnace, resulting in molten iron, which is full of impurities like carbon that weaken the material. Alexander Koerner/Getty Images To create steel, manufacturers start with iron ore and add in coke (the fuel, not the beverage) and lime (the stone, not the garnish). These three components are melted in a blast furnace, resulting in molten iron, which is full of impurities like carbon that weaken the material. Oxygen is blown through the iron to reduce the carbon content and strengthen the material. Steel is 1000 times stronger than iron, which is why it is used in everything from the construction of skyscrapers to the finer assembling of a laptop. Alexander Koerner/Getty Images Oxygen is blown through the iron to reduce the carbon content and strengthen the material. Steel is 1000 times stronger than iron, which is why it is used in everything from the construction of skyscrapers to the finer assembling of a laptop. All of this work, turning metals into liquids and back again, takes heat and a lot of it. The furnaces can rise to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit. Here, a steelworker puts on safety gear to withstand the heat of the blast furnace. Alexander Koerner/Getty Images All of this work, turning metals into liquids and back again, takes heat and a lot of it. The furnaces can rise to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit. Here, a steelworker puts on safety gear to withstand the heat of the blast furnace. Steel Production At Salzgitter AG Alexander Koerner/Getty Images Workers may add in other elements like nickel to create stainless steel or other modified versions of the metal. Alexander Koerner/Getty Images Workers may add in other elements like nickel to create stainless steel or other modified versions of the metal. Steel Production At Salzgitter AG Alexander Koerner/Getty Images Steel Production At Salzgitter AG Alexander Koerner/Getty Images Steel Production At Salzgitter AG Alexander Koerner/Getty Images The liquefied steel is poured into cooled molds, rolled out, and formed to solidify in the desired shape-- frequently slabs, beams, or wires. Alexander Koerner/Getty Images The liquefied steel is poured into cooled molds, rolled out, and formed to solidify in the desired shape-- frequently slabs, beams, or wires. Outside of the plant, the steam from the heating process rises. Alexander Koerner/Getty Images Outside of the plant, the steam from the heating process rises. Back inside, the rolls of completed steel are ready to go, soon to strengthen the structure of buildings, highways, and gadgets around the world. Alexander Koerner/Getty Images Back inside, the rolls of completed steel are ready to go, soon to strengthen the structure of buildings, highways, and gadgets around the world.
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