It has been the ambition of numerous steel producers to gain acceptance for the continuous casting method of bearing steel production. The motivation for this is obvious in the light of the general developments in economical steelmaking processes.
At one time the concept of applying the continuous casting method to bearing steel production was seriously questioned but currently many thousands of tons per year of continuously cast AISI 52100 grade bearing steel are being used worldwide with good results. Some of the metallographic parameters associated with continuous casting of high-carbon steel have been the subject of detailed research, in particular macro and micro inclusions and carbide segregation. The results of these studies are described in respect to defining the microstructure-mechanical property relationships for AISI 52100 steel produced by the continuous casting route.
The continuous casting process requirements, including secondary steelmaking metallurgy, for bearing steel production have been evaluated, as well as examination of the quality systems. Before acceptance was given to a particular continuous casting method, laboratory studies were undertaken followed by sample and pilot deliveries in the bearing manufacturing units.
In this paper, details of the general processing requirements for AISI 52100 steel produced by the continuous casting route, conforming to the SKF bearing steel quality standard, are described and data given on the quality of pilot and long-term deliveries of continuous cast AISI 52100 steel.