01 December 2021
Blog
How it’s made: a look behind the scenes at Tata Steel chemistry to production
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From chemistry to production - part 2: the Valast plant trials

So far in the story of how Valast was developed, we’ve seen how our R&D engineers created a number of chemistries and simulate a scaled production in order to find a preferred formulation.

Engineering-Valast Chemistry to Production 2

So far in the story of how Valast was developed, we’ve seen how our R&D engineers created a number of chemistries and simulate a scaled production in order to find a preferred formulation.

Now our story moves up a gear, as our early Valast prototype travels from the UK to Tata Steel’s hot strip mill in IJmuiden, The Netherlands. It’s here where our production engineers must understand how Valast can be produced, and what adjustments to the production process are needed for optimum surface quality, consistency and hardness.

Valast 450 remains the hardest and strongest material ever rolled at IJmuiden and it posed multiple challenges (not least of which was how to stop a coil of Valast becoming the world’s most powerful spring – see our blog post on tail end forming here).

Our first plant trial saw us produce a relatively narrow strip of Valast, before gradually increasing the width. These early trials gave us some important learnings on surface quality and consistency but crucially we determined that rectifying this didn’t require a new chemistry, but rather subtle changes to our production process. This included increasing the rate at which we were able to cool the steel strip, which you can read more about here.
 
After each plant trial, a sample of the coil produced was sent back to the UK for analysis where, among other things, our R&D development team tested hardness, tensile strength, consistency and surface quality. We also began plant trials with our customers here as well.

By the end of the fourth plant trial, we were certain that the chemistry our R&D team had put forward would be Valast, but we took another three plant trials to perfect the final product further.

Once we were completely happy with it, the product was officially launched to the European and US market in June 2019. 
 

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