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Les mutations de la sidérurgie mondiale du XXe siècle à nos jours / The Transformation of the World Steel Industry from the XXth Century to the Present


Edited By Charles Barthel, Ivan Kharaba and Philippe Mioche

La sidérurgie a joué un rôle moteur dans l’éclosion du monde industrialisé moderne. Quoique son importance relative par rapport à l’ensemble des économies globalisées soit aujourd’hui en recul, il n’en demeure pas moins que, grâce à un processus d’adaptation permanente aux nouvelles données d’un environnement qui change de plus en plus rapidement, elle occupe toujours une place de choix. Aussi ses innombrables implications technologiques, commerciales, politiques, diplomatiques, culturelles et sociales font-elles apparaître l’utilité de faire le point sur deux siècles de mutations dans une démarche comparative à vocation essentiellement historique, mais également ouverte à d’autres disciplines.
Changes in the world steel industry have been faster in the late twentieth century than in all previous periods. The Transformation of the World Steel Industry from the Twentieth Century to the Present aims to scientifically describe and study the transformations which occurred in all areas of that industry. Its positioning in the contemporary period allows a multidisciplinary and comparative reflection about the origins and forms of these technological, commercial, political, diplomatic, cultural and social changes.
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Technological Trajectories. The Wide Strip Mill for Steel in Europe (Ruggero Ranieri and Jonathan Aylen)

← 362 | 363 → Technological Trajectories


Ruggero RANIERI and Jonathan AYLEN

University of PadovaUniversity of Manchester

Like railways in the 19th century and the internet in the 21st century, steel strip production was a technology that unlocked growth in a wide range of user industries during the 20th century. Invented in America in the 1920s to supply the fast growing automobile industry with steel sheets, the wide strip mill spread to Europe from the 1930s onwards, allowing a wide range of modern manufacturing industries to emerge before and after the Second World War. Coils of strip steel fed car makers, food canners and a range of consumer durable industries that underpinned growth in European living standards. At the same time, the wide strip mill was responsible for transforming European steel from a craft industry into large scale, continuous mass production. Batch production of small lots of individual sheets on hand-mills was swept aside by flow line processing of heavy slabs into steel coils suitable for automated handling by downstream processes. The wide strip mill represented a quantum jump in the scale of output for those firms that adopted the new technology, putting pressure on iron and steel output capacity upstream and bringing technical economies of scale in its wake.

The continuous wide strip mill was first developed in the United States in the 1920s in response to car industry needs (Columbia Steel at Butler, 1926). The new mills brought marked reductions in costs, gains in quality, much wider sheet suitable...

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