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ASTM International Forges New Guide for Comparing Steel Standards

Handbook and CD-ROM Simplify Searches for Material Equivalency

This month, ASTM International publishes The Handbook of Comparative World Steel Standards: Second Edition (DS67A). Completely updated and revised, the Handbook groups comparable steels based on their chemical composition and mechanical properties according to a detailed set of rules outlined in the first chapter. Read on to discover why the revised Handbook will be an invaluable aid for businesses worldwide that need to manufacture in accordance with the complex world of steel specifications.

Hunting for comparative world steel standards is no bed of roses. It requires a wide array of specifications and a truckload of expertise. In a global market, requests for steel produced to the specifications of other countries has increased. Deciding which steel to use requires careful consideration of multiple factors, but the hunt begins with a search of steel specifications.

ASTM eases this process with a new book and searchable disk, DS67A, Handbook of Comparative World Steel Standards, now in its second edition. This volume is a new tool for businesses worldwide, including steel importers and exporters, and manufacturers of machinery, tools, parts, tubing and transportation materials (such as: oil refinery, petrochemical, pulp and paper, power plants, oil/gas pipelines, construction, steel bridges, and plant engineering).

Sixteen Tons of Steel and What Do You Get? A Handbook That’s Golden

Dean C. Krouse, a Bethlehem, Pa., metallurgical consultant, describes how a domestic steel producer might use the Handbook: “Producers frequently get inquiries for materials that meet foreign standards,” says Krouse, the vice chairman of ASTM Committee A01 on Steel, Stainless Steel, and Related Alloys. “They get a request to quote on so many tons of some particular steel product and the reference is a foreign specification. The ASTM steel Handbook is one reference they can use to attempt to match what the customer wants, or attempt to find out what ASTM specification is closest to the required foreign standard.”

The Handbook of Comparative World Steel Standards, Second Edition, and the accompanying disk guide the user in this selection of standards. Editor John Bringas, P. Eng., president of CASTI Publishing Inc., completely rewrote and reformatted the first edition and included an easy-to-search disk for PC. Users simply type a search term on the disk’s search bar, using Adobe Acrobat with search, and view the specification’s comparable steels and their chemical and mechanical data. An introductory chapter bolsters this data by offering rules for comparison and points on product form and application.

Bringas spent over two years reformatting the Handbook and developing his “rules for comparison” which guide the selection of steel standards. “There’s over 175,000 pieces of data and three indexes,” says Bringas, who compiled the data with metallurgical engineers and information specialists from CASTI Publishing, Inc., a codes and standards publishing and training corporation in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Bringas wrote four metals data books before compiling the new edition of DS67A. Bringas’ updated data in the Handbook is supported by his 26 years of expertise as a metallurgical and materials engineer.

The revised Handbook helps users make educated decisions. Among dozens of scenarios, he notes that standards might share the same grades of steel. “For example,” he writes in the Handbook’s first chapter, “ASTM A 485 and EN ISO 683-17 share seven identical bearing steel grade chemical compositions, yet the body of each standard is different (that is, grain size, hardenability, microstructure and hardness, inspection, testing, etc.). As a result, these seven bearing steels within these two standards are not equivalent, but are comparable.”

Increased Demand for Products Made to Specs from Around the World

Whether in America or Timbuktu, the demand to meet foreign specifications is up, according to the steel experts.

“As American and foreign companies merge, foreign technology is introduced and foreign specifications need to be either followed or substituted with the equivalent or best American match of materials,” says Jerry Schick from his office at Bethlehem Steel Plate mills in Coatesville and Conshohocken, Pa. A specification metallurgist, he prepares approximately five to 10 quotes per week to foreign specifications.

“Some foreign clients want exported steel made according to their specifications,” he says. “The European standards and the ASTM standards are not identical. So there isn’t always 100 percent substitution. You may have to do some modification to present ASTM to make it fit the European standards.”

The new Handbook identifies the latest designation changes for the Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN), British Standards Institution (BSI), Association Francaise de Normalisation (AFNOR), and their new European Committee for Standardization (CEN) designations. It lists the designations systems of ASTM, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and Unified Numbering System (UNS) specifications.

Schick said an expanding market brings new challenges. “First of all, we are exporting steel, and always have. As time goes forth, the countries that we export to really want to see it in their own standards as opposed to the American standards.

“The second thing that happens is that we sell a lot of steel to companies who will fabricate in the states and then export the product overseas,” he adds. “So they would want to have that fabricated again using their national standards.

“The third thing we see is the fact that a lot of companies in the United States are being bought or merged with foreign companies and the foreign companies will try to export their technology to the United States and that includes their standards.”

The Handbook Eases the Quoting of Contracts with Other Nations

ASTM’s new Handbook and searchable disk speeds the process of comparing steel standards, a growing necessity as worldwide bidding increases. Fabricators and laboratory managers can benefit from the Handbook, as they make steel to other countries’ specifications, or meet requirements of steel-mill certification.

Kenneth E. Orie, senior metallurgical engineer with Bethlehem Lukens Plate, Coatesville, Pa., says a variety of tools are used to decide what foreign grades are comparable. He specializes in steel for pressure-vessel applications. His previous work in sales metallurgy involved determining how or if a steel product could be made. “The comparative standards can’t tell you necessarily what all the requirements are,” he advises, saying the value of a comparable standards reference is to provide information on other grades of steel the user may not know are synonymous. “You’re looking to find out exactly what genre of steel it is and then for an alternative that would be either equal or provide comparable quality.

“Is it alloy, low alloy, high alloy, stainless, or is it plain carbon steel or some form of sophisticated carbon steel?” he asks, illustrating the considerations that DS67A addresses. “Then we may offer the customer the alternative based on what we know the standard to be. Now more and more, we actually need to retrieve that particular standard, because customers say it has to be exact.

“And that can be a problem with the international standards,” he notes. “Some of these foreign specifications involve different testing conditions and specimen configurations that our labs are not necessarily set up to handle. And that can become inconvenient. But sometimes you have to do it if you want to get the business.”

Easier Access to Economical Materials

Jim Tanzosh, a metallurgical engineer with Babcock and Wilcox, Barberton, Ohio, lends his thoughts about the Handbook’s value. Tanzosh is responsible for materials aspects of designing and manufacturing large boilers and pressure vessels for coal or oil-burning utilities. “We build boilers and vessels not only for the North American market but for markets all around the world,” he says. “So we often get involved with foreign specifications. There are conditions under which we need to know equivalencies.”

Foreign steel is often cheaper, more available, or might be stipulated in contracts. Babcock and Wilcox uses local foreign materials for much of the auxiliary equipment (structural steel, sheet, and other non-pressure containing components) when they build a boiler oversees.

“A lot of these countries have excellent materials for the less critical parts,” Tanzosh says. “Where we’re allowed to use foreign materials, we will use them because of their economy and availability. That’s where we need to have references like your Handbook that describe the material specifications of the different countries that are available in different areas of the world for us to be able to procure and use in construction of the boilers.

“Materials between countries, even though they’re similar, are not always, from a design standpoint, absolutely equivalent. So, for example, if I have a certain kind of alloy steel tube that I want to use that’s a United States grade, I can find a grade usually that’s similar to it in Germany or France or Britain. But it may not be precisely the same chemistry or precisely the same tensile and yield strength and physical properties, so they are not absolutely equivalent, and you have to use a lot of judgement as to whether you can substitute it one-for-one. And that’s where this document comes in handy.”

The experts agree that ASTM’s new book and searchable disk, DS67A, Handbook of Comparative World Steel Standards: Second Edition is a good tool to have around. It is available this month from ASTM. //

Copyright 2002, ASTM

Need Answers to These Questions?

WHEN comparing two or more steel standards, what criteria should be used to define the rules of comparison?

SHOULD mechanical properties or chemical composition be the main criteria?

IF mechanical properties are compared, which property should be the first criteria for comparison (yield strength, tensile strength, elongation, impact strength, hardness, etc.)?

ONCE having selected a primary criteria, should there be a secondary criteria for ranking the comparative steels within this group?

WHEN mechanical properties or chemical compositions vary with section thickness for a given steel grade, which section thickness data should be selected as the criteria for comparison?

WHEN two steels have the same minimum tensile strength values, but different yield strength values, are they no longer similar?

DO you compare the data’s minimum values, maximum values, or take an average of their min/max ranges?

SHOULD alloy steels and stainless steels be compared on their mechanical properties when they are generally selected for use based on their alloying elements’ abilities to provide satisfactory service in their intended applications?

IS it reasonable to compare steels based on only their chemical compositions, regardless of their product form?

One new publication answers all these questions: The Handbook of Comparative World Steel Standards, Second Edition (DS67A). A fully searchable CD-ROM is included in the price.

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