European Wide Strip Mills

The invention of the continuous hot strip mill in the USA in the 1920s (at Armco, Ashland) was one of the key innovations in the steel industry. Similar to the introduction of the Bessemer or Mannesmann processes, it not only brought cost advantages for steel producers but also opened up completely new markets. Nevertheless, this technology still is not known to most people.
With the traditional, non-continuous, processes for sheet metal production, mass motorization of the population in the industrialized countries would never have been possible.
Whereas in the US in 1940 there were already 28 wide strip mills in operation, in Europe there were only 4, all of which were built with American help, except for the plant in Dinslaken, Germany.
The great era of hot strip mills in Europe only started after the war and especially in the 1960s with the motorization of the working class.
A technology transfer promoted by the US government began because European rolling mill engineers did not have the necessary know-how to build these huge, complex plants on their own.  Until the late 1960s they therefore usually cooperated with American companies such as United, Mesta or Blaw Knox.
The new rolling mills changed the appearance of the iron and steel works forever. The August-Thyssen-Hütte, one of the largest steel mills in Europe, produced 1.55 million tons of crude steel in 1955. A modern hot strip mill consumes up to 5.5 million tons of steel per year. Larger blast furnaces, more efficient steelworks and new types of continuous casting plants had to be installed to satisfy the steel hunger of the new hot strip mills. This led to the consolidation of both steel production sites and their operating companies.
Apart from their economic and social importance, hot strip mills are simply evidence of brilliant engineering and are also very photogenic.
I would therefore like to present in a small series some of the important hot strip mills in Europe.
Further reading:
Ribbon of Fire – How ERibbon of fireurope adopted and developed US strip mill technology (1920-2000) edited by J Aylen & Ruggaro Ranieri Published by Pendragon ISBN 978-8865982389




USINOR, Denain.Usinor Denain

It was in Denain that the new company Usinor, resulting from the merger of the Société des forges et aciéries du Nord et de l’Est and the Société de Denain-Anzin, decided to install a continuous wide-strip rolling mill, the first in France and postwar Europe, commissioned in 1951.
The 66” (1,676 mm) fully continuous mill had 4 roughing and 6 finishing stands. It was built by  United Engineering from Pittsburgh, Pa. .
The electrical equipment came from the Westinghouse company.
The  subsequent 3-stand cold rolling mill was installed 140 km away in Montataire near a Renault assembly plant.

Usinor Denain Hot strip Mill

Finishing stands

Soon Usinor’s steel capacity became a bottleneck so in 1955 a new blast furnace (No.5) had to be built.
In 1978 Denain underwent a restructuring plan which led to the phasing out of its steel production. In July 1980, the last blast furnace was shut down. The hot strip mill continued to operate until March 1985. Afterwards only the Ateliers de Denain, specialising in the repair of wagons remained on the site.

Roughing stand

The workforce at the Denain mills fell from 10,000 employees in 1966 to 6,300 in 1979, and then to less than 200 when the Denain plant was finally closed in 1988.

TKS legt Giesswalzanlage still.

ThyssenKrupp GiesswalzanlageAnläßlich ihres 20-jährigen Jubiläums wurde die GWA noch als weitsichtige und lohnende Investition bezeichnet, nun aber, nur ein Jahr später, wird sie stillgelegt.
Als die GWA im April 1999 in Betrieb genommen wurde war sie die erste Anlage ihrer Art in einem integrierten Hüttenwerk weltweit.
Offenbar hat sich die Erzeugung von Breitband in einer Hitze in diesem Rahmen aber nicht bewährt denn Thyssen-Krupp Steel kündigt an die Anlage zu einer Warmbreitbandstrasse klassischer Bauart umzubauen.

Back at La Louviere

Roughing Stand

Back at the old Gustave Boël site in La Louviere, Belgium after 13 years.
A lot has changed, no more steel making, no more continuous casting, no more wire rolling.
NLMK from Russia took over in 2011 and still operates the 72″ hot strip mill  which was put into operation in November 1965.

Finishing stands

Together with the LD steelworks, it was part of a major investment in anticipation of the extension of the Brüssel-Charleroi Canal for 1350 t vessels.
The roughing stand was supplied by Maschinenfabrik Sack in Düsseldorf – the finishing line was a cooperation between Siemag from Hilchenbach and the United Engineering and Foundry Company from Pittsburgh.
The roughing stand was equipped with two 5000 kW DC engines and each finishing stand was driven by a 4500 kW DC motor.
Further images on my website.