Company tests its mettle by producing thinnest foil

2020年05月29日11:40  来源:山西日报

With a thickness of 0.02 millimeters, the superthin stainless steel foil produced by Taiyuan Iron and Steel is considered a highend product in the industry. WANG XUHONG / FOR CHINA DAILY

With a thickness of 0.02 millimeters, the stainless steel foil produced by Taiyuan Iron and Steel is considered a high-end product in the industry.

Few people believe that a steel sheet can be torn apart like paper. But this is the case for a product produced by Taiyuan Iron and Steel, a State-owned enterprise in Shanxi.

With a thickness of 0.02 millimeters, or one-third of the diameter of a human hair, the product can be easily torn apart by hand. As a result, it is called "hand-torn steel" by the company's workers.

"The formal name of the product is broad-sheet super-thin stainless steel foil. It is a high-end product in the industry," said Liao Xi, an engineer responsible for its development.

When introducing the product, the engineer shows how the steel sheet can be torn apart in his hands in seconds.

"Being Strong and hard is always our impression of steel products. However, the idea can be replaced if there are the technology and demand in the market," Liao said.

He added that "a steel foil sheet made this thin and soft is not for the purpose of satisfying people's imaginations or to find a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. It is produced for applications in specific industries."

"Generally speaking, the product is meant to take the place of aluminum foil in similar industrial applications, like the fields of aerospace, electronics, petrochemicals and automobiles.

"Compared with aluminum foil, the hand-torn steel performs better in erosion, moisture and heat resistance," Liao said.

According to the engineer, only steel sheet thinner than 0.05 mm can be called steel foil.

"Most of the steel foil products made in China are more than 0.038 mm in thickness. We are among the few companies in the world capable of producing soft steel foil of 0.02 mm," Liao said.

The company's executives said the technological breakthrough was made thanks to the painstaking efforts of researchers, engineers and workers.

According to Liu Yudong, an executive responsible for production, the company's research and development team began working on the product in 2016.

"After more than 700 experiments and trials over two years, our R&D team successfully developed the product in 2018," Liu said.

"In manufacturing, 24 pressings are required for the 0.02-mm-deep and 600-mm-wide steel sheet," Liu added.

Qu Zhanyou, sales director at Taiyuan Iron and Steel, said the special product has brought a high added value to his company.

"Our hand-torn steel foil is sold at about 6 yuan ($0.84) a gram,"Qu said.

"Despite the novel coronavirus pandemic, the company's export value increased about 70 percent in the first four months of this year, compared with the same period of last year," Qu said. He added that the growth was mostly driven by hand-torn steel.

Wang Tianxiang, general manager of the stainless-steel foil division of Taiyuan Iron and Steel, revealed that the company is now producing an even thinner steel foil. It also recently secured an order of 12 metric tons of the product.

"The client required us to deliver the product in 12 days after the agreement was signed and we fulfilled the task in three days," Wang said.

"The toughest job is to maintain the quality of the ordered product, which has a total area equal to 75 soccer fields. And we made it,"Wang said proudly.

The executive noted that the company's capability in developing high-quality products comes from improving its innovative strengths over the past dozen years.

"Based on our growing competence in innovation, we are confident that we can sustain our development by creating more cutting-edge products," Wang said.


Guo Yanjie contributed to this story.