Foundries and Furnaces

melting steel

According to Wikipedia, a foundry is a factory that produces metal castings. Metals are cast into shapes by melting them into a liquid, pouring the metal in a mold, and removing the mold material or casting after the metal has solidified as it cools. The most common metals processed are aluminum and cast iron. However, other metals, such as bronzebrasssteelmagnesium, and zinc, are also used to produce castings in foundries. In this process, parts of desired shapes and sizes can be formed.

At 21st Century Steel Mill, Incorporated, we do not have a foundry but we have a furnace.  Furnaces are refractory-lined vessels that contain the material to be melted and provide the energy to melt it. Modern furnace types include electric arc furnaces (EAF), induction furnacescupolasreverberatory, and crucible furnaces. Furnace choice is dependent on the alloy system quantities produced. For ferrous materials EAFs, cupolas, and induction furnaces are commonly used. Reverberatory and crucible furnaces are common for producing aluminium, bronze, and brass castings.

Furnace design is a complex process, and the design can be optimized based on multiple factors. Furnaces in foundries can be any size, ranging from small ones used to melt precious metals to furnaces weighing several tons, designed to melt hundreds of pounds of scrap at one time. They are designed according to the type of metals that are to be melted. Furnaces must also be designed based on the fuel being used to produce the desired temperature. For low temperature melting point alloys, such as zinc or tin, melting furnaces may reach around 500° C. Electricity, propane, or natural gas are usually used to achieve these temperatures. For high melting point alloys such as steel or nickel-based alloys, the furnace must be designed for temperatures over 1600° C.

In short, it’s really HOT!

Categories: Innovation, Uncategorized

Innovative steel architecture and engineering shine at 2014 National Steel Excellence Awards in Australia

Article from Architecture & Design Australia

Star City Events Centre by Brookfield Multiplex, ICPM and Taylor Thomson Whitting, and designed by Fitzpatrick + Partners, won the Buildings – Large Project category. Sitting atop of the existing casino, the facility comprises over 1,000 tonnes of new structural steel, and is a braced steel frame supported on eight existing columns and two new columns positioned between two post-tensioned transfer beams.


The internal floor structure hangs from an external ring truss, which transfers back to the primary columns. Site bolting was utilised for the connection of prefabricated elements across the site, reducing onsite welding to an absolute minimum.

“[Star City Events Centre] is an elegant solution especially difficult on an existing structure whilst it was still operational, involving a high degree of team coordination,” the jury commended.

Teamwork was also central to the Scenic Railway Upgrade in Katoomba, NSW, which was awarded the Engineering Projects category top prize. Submitted by Jacobs SKM, the project prominently employs steelwork to upgrade the railway, listed by Guinness Book of Records as the world’s steepest.

A 3D laser survey of existing structures allowed for accurate modelling to deal with the loose and environmentally sustainable terrain, leading to an innovative use of steel casing in micropiles for new foundation work.

Altogether, 17,855 individual steel components, representing 205 tonnes of fabricated steelwork, were used on the project, with most components installed via helicopter.

AGL Lakeside Pavilion at the Australian Botanic Garden in regional NSW, submitted by Hunter Galvanizing, won the Buildings – Small Project category. Made almost entirely of steel, it draws together a semi-permanent theatrical marquee and more permanent utility shed.


The main steel was fabricated off-site entirely, and assembled with bolted connections to avoid onsite welding and maximise the speed of construction. Steel sections also featured a modular design for ease of transport to ensure fit within galvanising bath size capability.

Topping the Steel Clad Structures category was IGLU Central Student Accommodation by Bates Smart, Grindley Construction and Taylor Thomson Whitting in Sydney’ CBD. Weathering steel panels were applied to the striking façade, affixed with simple self-tapping connections to speed construction.


A characteristic ochre brown patina not only complements the surrounding brick facades, but also produces a natural oxide layer to slow and eventually stabilise corrosion. A perforated metal layer was added to several areas to add detail, scale and texture to the building whilst serving as a privacy screen enabling natural light to filter into the space.

The Steel Excellence Awards are organised every two years, and seek to recognise the project teams associated with winning entries. Winners and finalists were shortlisted from the five state programs conducted earlier in the year.

Categories: Uncategorized

Six (6) Reasons Why Steel is Better

1. Convenience:  It’s lighter than wood and takes up half the space of lumber.

2. Ease of installation: Steel framing is easier to handle because the studs weigh a third less than wood and can be installed at 24 inches on center. They also are attached with screws, so moving studs is simple if you make a mistake.

3. Stability:  Wood is prone to twisting and warping; metal is not. Wood also wicks moisture, which can lead to mold growth and rot, while metal is immune. Metal does rust, so install a vapor barrier or sill gasket between the bottom plate and the concrete floor.

4. Strength: The strength and ductility of structural cold-formed steel (CFS) framing, along with the holding power of CFS connections, make it ideal for construction in high-wind and seismic zones such as the Philippine coastal areas.

5. Insect-Proof and Fire Retardant: Carpenter ants and termites can severely damage wood construction, but steer clear of metal. Likewise, wood burns and metal does not. A wall built with metal studs is virtually fireproof.

6. Lower construction costs: There are some nuances to this area. Steel framing can cost three  to 15 percent more than wood studs, but metal studs offer cost advantages in other areas that can offset this price difference.  Unlike wood which might need to be replaced over time, steel does not shrink, split or warp. As a result, there are no nail pops or drywall cracks to fix after the structure is completed. Consistent quality means that scrap is drastically reduced (two percent for steel versus 20 percent for wood), which also reduces costs for hauling off and disposing of discarded material.

Categories: Uncategorized

Stay Safe: Buy Certified Steel

steel production capacityThe Philippines steel production capacity is so small it registers as effectively 0% when put into the world production pie of 1.55 billion tonnes per year. (We produce 1.4 million tonnes incidentally.) The scary thing about this pie is the overproduction in China at a whopping 900 million tonnes per year. It may be a big country in need of much development but even it cannot absorb the staggering volumes coming out of its manufacturing plants.

So what do they do?
They “dump” their goods on various countries (since they need to continue producing to keep people employed and recoup their capital investment). This should be good news for the consumer who can buy the steel at cheap prices- unfortunately, when someone is selling at very cheap prices trying to recoup their losses, you can bet your bottom dollar they are not selling you something of quality.

Don’t take our word for it, angle barsteel that has found its way to the Philippines from the overcapacity in China has proven to be: underweight, undersized and uncertified as repeatedly reported by the Philippine Product Safety and Quality Foundation Inc. (PPSQF). Now steel, unless it is used for decorative purposes, is not something you can have a “bahala na” attitude with. Since it is a material that is meant to carry a load, using undersized or underweight materials means putting your life at risk. So make sure, before you make that purchase, that what you are putting into your building is safe for everyone.

Before you buy: check out the BSP Standards Gabay sa pagbili on steel bars.

Categories: News

Steel Cleverly Disguised as Wood

On the road between Tacloban City and Babatngon sits a beautiful farm by Rafael. Aside from the incredible landscaping inside and the good food to be had, we notice the attention to detail was impeccable. Probably no one except interior decorators and those in the steel business would have noticed the sturdy roof structure that can withstand the harsh winds and rain of Leyte.

If you look closely, you’ll see that the wooden roof structure is actually made up of steel trusses- c-purlins and angle bars painted to blend in aesthetically with the environment.


Categories: Innovation

Did you Know?

Hollow block construction of homes is unsafe if there are no steel bars or wire mesh in between? This is why many houses in 3rd world countries collapse easily during an earthquake or even just a strong typhoon.

Using a steel wire mesh or a steel frame or simply dropping rebar rods into every other cell of the hollow block for reinforcement however means a much safer home, especially in earthquake prone Philippines.

Learn how to properly reinforce a hollow concrete block wall here.

Moreover, steel is 100% recyclable, even if it is old and rusted and looks like junk already, it is still fully recyclable.

What’s more, the steel frame is not only strong enough to keep your walls from collapsing during thunderstorms, it also provides a path for the lightning to go straight to the ground should your house be struck.

Lastly, your living area can actually be much bigger since huge columns will no longer be necessary because a steel frame is strong enough for wide open spaces.

Categories: Innovation

An Inventive Use of Angular Bars

A visit to a Bacolod furniture showroom recently yielded a nice surprise- angular bars adorned the walls both for form and function. Aesthetically pleasing, minimalist and unobtrusive, the angle bars were painted white against a white background and placed horizontally as a design feature on the wall.

Holes were then drilled into them so that different size picture frames and mirrors could be hung without having to drill into the walls.


Categories: Innovation

Quiapo & Paris: The Basilica of San Sebastian, The Eiffel Tower & The Wonders of Steel

After having the the Church of San Sebastian destroyed by fire and earthquakes in 1859, 1863, and 1880, Estebán Martínez, the parish priest of the ruined church, decided to ask Spanish architect Genaro Palacios to build a fire and earthquake-resistant structure.

This meant the basilica could therefore not be made of wood or brick (the material they used in the 3 earlier iterations).  So Palacios recommended a daring and visionary material.  He suggested that the church should be made entirely of steel. Moreover, the steel structures would be prefabricated in Belgium. According to the historian Ambeth Ocampo, the knockdown steel parts were ordered from the Societe Anonyme des Enterprises de Travaux Publiques in Brussels and all in all, 52 tons of prefabricated steel sections were transported in eight separate shipments from Belgium to the Philippines with the first shipment arriving in 1888.

Around the same time (two years earlier), another steel structure that would become world famous had been built in Paris as the grand entranceway to the World Fair. This massive tower that millions would later ascend and descend (to this day) was designed by Gustave Eiffel. Historian Ambeth Ocampo while doing research in Paris, posited that possibly the San Sebastian Church in Quiapo was also designed by Eiffel because of his fascination with steel structures. Other historians concur with this supposition because no other architects at that time (late 1800’s) were undertaking such enormous projects using steel as the primary material.

Today, like its counterpart in Paris, the Basilica of San Sebastian still stands proud in the Plaza del Carmen at the eastern end of Claro M. Recto Street in Quiapo, Manila. Although after over 120 years, the salty sea breeze wafting in from the Manila Bay is corroding some of the exposed steel (but better than being burned down or destroyed by earthquake every few years as had happened before).

In 1973, the government proclaimed the church as a National Historical Landmark, and since 2006 is on the tentative list for inclusion as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites for its Architectural Design.

Categories: History

Save time and money with Steel

February 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Pinoy Engineer Bow Moreno has succeeded in designing a building system that allows him to finish a 72-square-meter, 24 foot-high, two-story townhouse with a spacious attic in just 12 days and for less than P680,000. To prove it, his company, Bow Moreno Construction, delivered 10 townhouses in 120 days (exactly as promised) for the GMA-7 Employees Multipurpose Cooperative.

In the article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Moreno explains how he has developed a system called “buil-to-order-web” or BOW building system which takes advantage of the versatility of the steel angle bar. He has put together a clever steel system that when built a certain way will have the strength equal to that of I-Beams but are lesser in cost.

Some methods the BOW system uses include 3 x 3-inch angular bars welded together and joined by round steel bars to form 3 x 6-inch channels that serve as columns and beams. These can then be easily assembled to form the skeletal frame of the house.

The concrete framework is then clad with MX panels consisting of corrugated Styrofoam boards sandwiched by an interconnected pair of galvanized wire mesh which are plastered with cement using pressurized bucket spray for strong & efficient bonding.

Moreno also explains how he does the flooring and roofing. You can read more about his method by reading the article here and start thinking of ways you can also save with steel.

Categories: Innovation

NEDA teaches the use of Coconut Fiber, Angle Bars & C-Purlins for Roofs

February 20, 2012 7 comments

In this article by NEDA, they show a 2-storey experimental house with a total floor area of 53 square meters constructed utilizing coconut fiber-cement boards (CFB) together with component steel as its structural framework.

Given the plentiful coconut tree- ubiquitous in fact on our Philippine shores, CFB as an alternative construction material for walling, ceiling, roofing and base support in upper level flooring of house makes complete sense. In fact, NEDA proposes its use in the fabrication of furniture (tables, chairs, desks, etc.), cabinets, boxes and vases inside the house.

Roofing System

MATERIALS USED: The house has an A-frame design with the roof system consisting of the traditional rafters and purlins construction. In the picture, the green roof cover is made of 8 mm thick, 75 cm wide, and 75 cm long CFB panels painted with waterproof paints.

The rafters consist of 0.6 cm X 5 cm x 5 cm angular steel bars and the purlins made of 0.60 cm x 3.8 cm x 75 cm channel bars. The components were assembled on site by welding the members together. The two opposite rafters were joined together end to end at the ridge beam (0.60 cm x 5 cm x 5 cm angular steel bar) while the other ends were directly connected to the base plate of the second level floor extending to the eaves or overhang of about one (1) meter.

Interestingly, the main roof structure was made to incline by about 40% greater than the normal slope of 35 degrees considering that the roof cover is made of experimental fiber-cement boards. This will ensure faster surface water run-off in case of downpour.

Of course, the question is, how strong and lasting is the coconut fiber? This project by NEDA aims to evaluate the performance of CFB in actual service condition. To find out more click here

Note: A coconut fiber-cement board (CFB) is a product manufactured from fibrous materials like coconut coir, fronds, spathes and shredded wood that are mixed with Portland cement at a predetermined ratio of 60-70% cement to 30-40% fiber by weight.

Categories: Innovation