From cutlery and outdoor furniture to building frames, bolts, screws, bridges and more, steel is a versatile material that’s used in a wide variety of applications. Classified as an alloy featuring iron and carbon — as well as other elements, though in smaller quantities — it’s prized for its unique combination of high tensile strength and inexpensive cost. As a result, many companies use it to build their products. But steel manufacturing in the United States has been a vital component of the country’s economy. In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at U.S. steel manufacturing, revealing how it’s helped to create a healthy economy and bustling job market.
History of US Steel Manufacturing
Steel manufacturing in the United States has origins dating back to the 1800s, during which companies would produce the metal by smelting iron with charcoal. Adding charcoal to the process was important because it provides the carbon needed to create steel. Without carbon, the metal remains iron, which is weaker than its steel counterpart.
Steel manufacturing played a critical role during World War II. During this time, the United States was the only major producer of steel that wasn’t harmed. As a result, it produced more than two-thirds of the world’s total pig iron and about 72% of the world’s total steel. In the years to follow, other countries began producing their own steel, thereby causing U.S. steel manufacturers market presence to shrink.
The Impact of Steel
Being a base material used to produce countless other products, steel has a wide-sweeping effect on many industries. Aerospace companies, for example, use steel to build to build certain aircraft components, while commercial construction companies use it to build homes and skyscrapers. Without this metal, companies in these and other industries wouldn’t be able to perform their operations.
Of course, there are other metals available, some of which are more readily available than steel. Only steel, however, offers the unique benefits of a low cost and high tensile strength. Furthermore, steel can be coated with chromium or other corrosion-inhibiting compounds to protect against rust and oxidation.
US Steel Manufacturing Today
Steel manufacturing remains a key sector of the United States economy. As of 2014, there are one dozen integrated steel mills operated throughout the country as well as countless other mini-mills (also known as specialty mills). And while U.S. steel manufacturers face competition from other countries, they continue to produce millions of tons of steel.