To some people, the word steel is synonymous with industry, specifically the Post Civil War Era. But steel is much more than that – touching every aspect of our lives including the vehicles we drive, the buildings we work in, our canned foods and even the kitchen and surgical gadgets we depend on. Whether we realize it or not, steel is an important part of our everyday lives.
In the race to meet tighter fuel economy regulations, some automakers are exploring alternative materials to replace steel – materials that are not as strong, reliable or sustainable as steel. Here at The Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), we want to teach you more about steel, so when the time comes you can make an informed choice about the material that is so in your everyday life.
Steel is Light
When people think of steel, it’s usually in a conventional sense – but steel has made great advances in recent years. Today’s advanced high-strength steels – or AHSS –are a lot lighter than you imagine. For example, in 1937, 83,000 tons of steel were used to build the famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. If we built that bridge today, we would only need half that amount because technological innovations have led to stronger, lighter grades of steel.
For the average person, this is something to consider when choosing what car or truck to drive. We all want the next best thing – a vehicle that is lighter, faster and more fuel efficient. The good news is that vehicles built with AHSS weigh up to 35 percent less than those made with former conventional steel, substantially reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. What does that mean for you? It means greater fuel economy without sacrificing the strength, durability and safety of traditional steel.
Steel is Strong
You may have heard the expression “strong as steel.” And the most beloved superhero of all time is often referred to as the “man of steel.” Why? Because it’s the strongest material out there. In fact, military equipment is designed with steel, because you can depend on its superior strength and durability. Steel is an amazing alloy – it doesn’t chip, dent or crack – making it the best defense between you and the dangers of the road.
Additionally, engineers choose steel to build trucks, ships, railways, buildings and most recently New York’s One World Trade Center. All of these items rely on the strength and versatility of steel. Today’s steel is time-tested and durable making it the best choice to keep our families and workers secure.
Steel is Sustainable
One of the best features of steel is that once it is made, it can be used forever. Steel is the world’s most recycled material, with more than 80 million tons of steel recycled annually. Even steel made 150 years ago can be recycled and used in new products.
AHSS also helps automakers decrease a vehicle’s life-long carbon footprint. According to Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) which measures a vehicle’s environmental impact by looking at greenhouse gas emissions from each phase of its life, shows that steel generates fewer emissions than alternative materials. Over a vehicle’s lifecycle, steel is the best value and most environmentally effective choice for automakers.
Steel is Affordable
Steel body structures using AHSS can be constructed at little or no additional total cost relative to a structure using conventional steel. In comparison, manufacturing and assembly with alternative materials can be 20 to 30 times more expensive than steel. And the higher costs don’t end there. In the event of an accident, steel can be easily replaced or repaired, unlike alternative materials.
Now that you know more about steel, we hope that you will demand nothing less than the best whether you are headed to work, taking the kids to school or on a mission anywhere in between.
How do you use steel in your daily life?