There’s been a tremendous change in the number, product types, locations, equipment, and manufacturing capabilities of stainless steel producers from the late 1960’s to present. This reconfiguration of the global steel industry occurred between the early 1970’s to the mid 1980’s and continues today. These changes have produced a loss in manufacturing flexibility, due to the inherent constraints created by equipment and plant designs that were customized for making a few, high value-added products. A major change in the production processes for manufacturing of thick plate material are the use of continuous cast slabs instead of as previously cast ingots and accompanying changes of the forging and rolling processes. The changes in manufacturing technology as well as identified deficiencies in flexibility and knowledge at the today´s material suppliers and the resulting impact on the microstructure and the material properties of delivered products are discussed in detail in the report.
Modifications of the today’s material specifications and an extended control and inspection of the manufacturing processes are necessary to avoid unwanted microstructures and unacceptable material properties. The author gives suggestions for more comprehensive material specifications and inspections.