About a year ago, TimkenSteel officially launched our Ultrapremium™ certified air-melt technology on a wide scale to our commercial customers. Now, real-world results are validating just how well our clean steel performs in the toughest applications.
Our Ultrapremium advanced processing can be applied to most grades of steel, and dramatically lowers the size and concentration of oxide inclusions, which contribute to early fatigue failure in engineered components like gears and bearings. The result – and the real benefit to customers – is optimum performance and longer life, at a fraction of the cost of re-melted steels. With Ultrapremium technology, customers experience an increase in power capacity at current component size, a reduction in size and weight at current power levels, and/or improved durability / fatigue life performance.
Validating data and exceeding expectations
After years of problems with the performance of highly stressed gears made with steel produced to bearing-quality specifications, our first Ultrapremium customer thoroughly tested and began using the new material in their product’s gears. The customer was so happy with the steel’s performance that they’ve started to use it in other gear and pinion applications.
Per data received from the customer, the switchover increased torque capacity from 300 horsepower to 350-400 horsepower, through the same gear set, without changing any design components.
“These results not only exceeded the customer’s expectations; they validated what our advanced modeling has predicted – steel made using our Ultrapremium technology provides the opportunity for a 10-35 percent power increase, with no other alterations to the design,” said Peter Glaws, senior materials scientist.
“And, the customer has also seen a decrease in gear fatigue-related claims,” he added. “Typically, they’d get 10-15 failure claims within a six-month period with competitor material. Once they switched to Ultrapremium, they had only one gear-related claim in six months.”
In addition, the same customer switched their highest-stressed pinion from vacuum arc-remelted (VAR) steel – traditionally known as the cleanest (and often most expensive) available – to Ultrapremium, which is now yielding equivalent performance, at less cost than VAR.
“This is the first time a commercial customer has actually replaced VAR with Ultrapremium,” Peter said. “That validates our statement that when VAR is used for cleanness purposes, Ultrapremium can replace it at a lower cost, with the same or better performance.”
With such success, the customer is now considering using the material in non-gear applications like shafts, where cleanness has a significant impact on performance.
Serving as a conversation starter
Our ability to offer Ultrapremium means we can start new business discussions related to cleanness, and how the cleanness of steel is a factor in various applications. We’re currently talking with customers in areas like gearing, fuel systems, crankshafts with heavy horsepower requirements and spring manufacturers about how our clean steel could benefit them.
“Ultrapremium is a great conversation starter with customers, and we’re meeting with more and more of them who are interested in what we can provide,” Peter said. “We’re introducing them to TimkenSteel as a supplier for some of the cleanest steel in the industry.”