Simulation improves materials development in the steel industry

Development of new materials in the steel industry is costly and time-consuming. Simulation can improve efficiency in both materials development and steelmaking.

Swerea works closely with the steel industry, performing simulations that aid the development of new steel grades, help to optimize existing steels and improve manufacturing processes. Uddeholm AB confirms that this collaboration has helped to improve efficiency in development processes.

“The outlook is promising. Working with Swerea leads to continuous refinement of customized databases which, in turn, means that simulation programs can be used with greater precision. Developing new steels, from needs analysis to finished product, can take years. The use of simulation programs aids our understanding of materials and improves efficiency when we upgrade tool steels,” says Sebastian Ejnermark at Uddeholm.

By simulating, for example, the casting process and subsequent heat treatment, we can build an understanding of how the material and its properties develop during manufacturing. Material properties and processes can be optimized before taking the step to very costly large-scale trials. This yields gains in terms of both time and money.

In Swerea’s computational work, software packages such as Thermo-Calc, DICTRA and TC-PRISMA are used. Thermo-Calc is a computationprogram that was originally developed at KTH. Among other things, equilibrium calculations are used to predict how atoms form different structures and particles in the steel.

DICTRA and PRISMA are based on the same principle, but also calculate atomic mobility and diffusion in the material.