When I joined Allied Steel & Wire, my first involvement was with the Tempcore process, and the qualification trials of the 40mm rebar. Over time I got to investigate the whole size range from 16mm to the upper limit of 40mm, as well as material from trials on higher strength materials, and from time to time, competitor’s material.
Wherever possible, I started to get in the habit of summarising the steel chemistry, quenching parameters, mechanical properties, the hardness profile across the bar diameter, and the corresponding microstructures, which formed part of their individual reports. And then it occurred to me that this set of summarised data could easily be compiled into what became the QST (Quench-and-Self Tempered) Atlas. Two typical examples are shown at the bottom of this blog.
The result of all these efforts ? Preciously little. It didn’t fit in any management-led scheme, it was just a metallurgist collating information of possible use for the future. The first problem was that this was in the days that all information was reported in paper copies, and the hope was that these paper copies were being held in a place where they would be consulted – optimistic ? Probably. It certainly didn’t help that this was not the days of servers, where information could be collated in a suitable format for easy analysis and wide distribution.
On top of that, the report came out when the days of the bar mill were numbered, and as such the Tempcore process was on its way out, together with any information that pertained to it.
Still, I can’t help but think that if AS&W had made better use of its metallurgists, and they were allowed to work closer with the production managers to mark the direction in which developments would lead, then this atlas might have been something that people wanted to use and peruse, with a view of making a better informed use of the Tempcore process. Maybe trials to see if the process could be sped up, or the quench flow rate modified, or the deformation pattern for each stand better understood.
In short, if all those factors had been in place, this could have represented a highlight of my career. As it was, it was all too little, too little – with as little impact as a drop in the ocean.