Materials Made to Last
MLP Steel has been one of America’s foremost manufacturers of steel and specialty metal wire products over the past fifty years. Its products are used in sectors including roads and infrastructure, transportation, automotive, mining, precast, ornamental and industrial construction.
MLP Steel is based in the borough of Scottdale, Pennsylvania, an area with a long history of steel and metal manufacturing. The company provides raw material and occasional processing services to diverse original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
This is an ISO 9001:2008-certified company that manufactures carbon, alloy, aluminum and stainless steel wire, rounds, shapes and flats. Its products are rigorously tested by its metallurgical department to ensure quality and consistency, and it provides chemical, mechanical and physical testing certifications upon request.
MLP’s skilled detail-oriented staff of eighty performs machining, produces cold rolled, flat wire, special shapes and profiles as well as fabricate heavy-duty grating, deformed wire and cold-drawn wire. It provides stellar customer service, speedy turnaround – owing to hundreds of dies – and specialty packaging, which guarantees clients receive orders well-wrapped, shipped and arriving in perfect condition.
MLP Steel produces duplex 2205 stainless steel which is ideal for applications in many industries with highly-corrosive or high-pressure environments. The product boasts many unique qualities, including high strength – twice the amount of standard stainless steel grades – and resistance to cracking, pitting and erosion, even in the most severe environments. Although the material has been around since the 1970s, it is gaining considerable interest for its properties.
“Right now, the reason it is significant is because it has very good mechanical properties and exceptional corrosion resistance,” says Jeff Pfeifer, sales director and a steel industry veteran of over forty years. Pfeifer started in a steel mill on the armor plate line as a teen, later become president of a large heat-treating company and gained considerable experience in related areas when he worked for a German firm selling massive industrial furnaces used in steel mills.
“The advantage of the MLP Steel cold-worked duplex 2205 stainless steel is that it possesses much higher strength than conventional carbon steel rebar as well as other stainless steels. The advantage being, you would use less MLP Steel than any of the others to meet the same design criteria. Less material, lighter bridges and lower costs all contribute to a compelling total cost of ownership.”
Unlike some other metals, duplex stainless steel has excellent resistance to corrosion from chloride attacks, such as from road salts or saltwater environments around coastal areas, with a pitting, resistance equivalent number (PREN) for duplex stainless steel 2205 around 35.5 percent. This indicates the material has exceptional resistance to the penetrating effects of various chloride ion substances that presently lead to the excessive corrosion of carbon steels.
A reduction in pitting also adds to the general strength of the rebar, since pitting acts as a stress riser and can fail due to reduced fatigue resistance. “Several studies report lifetimes for concrete structures lasting in excess of one hundred years using duplex stainless steels, where carbon steel structures last a fraction of the time forecasted at a life of twenty to twenty-five years,” says Pfeifer.
For industries using duplex stainless steels in concrete reinforcement, another benefit is cost-savings. There are no rust preventative coatings to chip, and no recoating of cut ends in the field is necessary. Since the stainless steel is self-healing, it will, if scratched, form a chrome oxide layer of protection. There is no need to add concrete inhibitors to the mix or use water membranes or additional sealing of the concrete.
While the price of stainless steel remains high largely due to the rising cost of nickel, duplex stainless steel actually uses about half the amount of nickel found in conventional stainless steel 304 or 316, which is an additional bonus. “What we are able to do with this material is, oddly enough, provide a product for the construction industry that is a little bit cheaper than looking at a conventional stainless, but has better corrosion resistance and better mechanical properties. Working with this grade, we now take it one step further and cold work it. When we did that, we found that now our properties are so much better than what you could normally get in the as-rolled state for that material.”
Stainless steel with a much greater tensile and yield strengths means the section size of material can be reduced. And since the material offers superior corrosion resistance and is self-healing, it will not rust, unlike conventional rebar. The deterioration of conventional rebar on bridges and overpasses is clearly visible on concrete.
“It just makes sense in today’s world to invest in a much better material. Conventional carbon steels give you about twenty-five years of life. With this material, we can easily meet a hundred-year requirement because of its superior corrosion resistance and exceptional strength. It actually costs more to use conventional materials now, because what we are looking at is elimination of things that people have to do to try to protect the carbon steels against corrosion.”
In tests, carbon steel embedded in concrete with two percent chloride cracked in four months; embedded U-bend steel reinforcement bar samples showed no cracking or corrosion of concrete after two years.
Machining is performed by highly-trained workers operating advanced computer numerical control (CNC) machining centers. For customers requiring heavy-duty grating, the company’s machinery includes production robotics and large-capacity hydraulic presses with automatic feed lines. And deformed wire products are produced to meet ASTM A496 standards. These are typically cut into twenty-foot lengths, but the company can provide longer lengths if required.
The company promotes itself through a variety of means including trade shows, approaching specific markets and social media. However, much of its work comes from word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied customers.
“A lot of what people do in the wire business is small-diameter wire, and we have the capability here going up to over an inch, larger than many competitors, which puts us in a niche and gets us referrals,” says Pfeifer. “We have something that a lot of the other guys just aren’t set up to do.”
MLP’s engineers work with clients to create specialized dies and rolls. Once designed, tooling is rigorously tested in a virtual environment which reduces scrap and saves money. The company has recently invested in machinery including a new tensile testing system. MLP maintains in-house laboratories, where all testing is performed except for trials, which are conducted through independent labs.
MLP Steel works with customers to accommodate specific needs and guide them through the process. The company stands out from both local and overseas competitors and can produce in much smaller quantities than larger producers if needed. “Our ideas are really centered on how we can better serve the customer.”