Quenched & tempered steel is a high strength and abrasion resistant steel with high fabrication qualities and mechanical properties. Steel is subjected to processes such as quenching and tempering in order to increase its hardness and strength. The process of quenching comprises heating of steel, followed by immediate cooling in water, oil, and forced air or inert gases such as nitrogen. The process of quenching is tightly monitored and controlled with respect to parameters such as heating temperature, cooling method, and cooling speed depending upon the hardness required. After the steel has been quenched to a required hardened state, it is subjected to tempering to achieve greater toughness and ductility by decreasing hardness.
Tempering is achieved by heating the steel to below the critical point for a period of time and allowing it to cool in still air at a particular cooling rate. Parameters such as heating temperature and time are dependent on hardness and mechanical properties of the steel desired. Tempering enables quenched steel to become less ductile and more brittle without compromising hardness. As a result of these two processes, the steel becomes harder and tougher with more weldability and ductility than other grades of steel. Quenched & tempered steel is used in machinery, and plants and equipment where greater abrasion resistance coupled with higher strength is pre-requisite for applications such as mining, earth moving, and construction.
Quenched & tempered steel has high yield strength and is an ideal choice for low weight applications that require high carrying capacity. Quenched & tempered steel is used in construction sites in dumping truck bodies, storage bins, and hoppers, as it is light weight and maintains the required strength.
In terms of grade, the market for quenched & tempered steel can be segmented into grade 80, grade 400, and grade 500. Grade 80 steel is a high hardness, abrasion-resistant steel with appropriate carbon percentage to optimize welding. Grade 80 steel can be welded to itself and other grades of steel provided low hydrogen consumables are used and attention is paid to preheat, interpass temperature, heat input, and the degree of joint restraint. Grade 400 is a high hardness, abrasion-resistant steel. Grade 400 plate can be successfully cold formed, provided allowances are made for the high strength of the steel. Grade 500 is a medium carbon, high hardness, and abrasion-resistant steel. Grade 500 steel offers long shelf life in sliding abrasion applications such as dump truck wear liners, cutting edges, earthmoving buckets, and ground-engaging tools. Based on application, the market for quenched & tempered steel can be divided into automotive, construction, mining, industrial equipment & machinery, storage tanks, and others.
In terms of geography, North America dominates the quenched & tempered steel market due to its development plans to refurbish infrastructure. Demand for quenched & tempered steel is high in countries such as France, Germany, and the U.K. in Europe owing to the increase in industrial activities. Countries such as China, India, and Japan in Asia Pacific are emerging markets for quenched & tempered steel due to the rapid industrialization and development of smart cities. After the economic slowdown, countries in Latin America such as Brazil and Mexico are beginning to invest in quenched & tempered steel. This is expected to boost the market in the near future.
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Key players operating in the quenched & tempered steel market include ArcelorMittal, Nippon Steel, Leeco Steel, Bisalloy Steel, and Posco.
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