Iron is the fourth most common element in the Earth’s crust, but pure iron is relatively soft and flexible. Steel is an alloy of iron mixed with low levels of other elements, such as carbon, silicon and manganese. Steel alloys are formed when melted iron has metallic or non-metallic elements added to create a new material.
These alloys usually have new properties that differ from those of the constituent ingredients. A large number of different steels can be made using this process, depending on whether the steel needs to be hard, durable or pliable. Carbon acts as a binder, so the amount of carbon determines the properties of the steel.
An element can neither be created nor destroyed, instead circulating around society and the ecosystem in an eternal lifecycle. Being based on iron, steel can essentially be recycled ad infinitum, which has resulted in the formation of many scrap-based steelworks that use scrap metal as a key ingredient in their production. However, recycling is nothing new in the steel industry. In fact, processes for smelting scrap metal and manufacturing new steel products have been around since the 19th century.
Gränsfors Bruk uses steel from Ovako that derives entirely from recycled scrap. The scrap is sorted into different grades and the steelworks uses a mix of these for the steel that it produces. Like all industrial processes, manufacturing steel affects the environment. Gränsfors Bruk chose to work with Ovako for good reason. As one of Europe’s largest, and indeed leading, steelworks, Ovako has a strong commitment to the environment and invests much of its resources in product development, process development and recycling, in order to have as little impact on the environment as possible.
Its product development is leading to new types of steel that are more durable and have a longer useful life, while its process development is steadily helping to reduce use of carbon, oil and other consumable materials per tonne of manufactured steel. Its recycling of scrap metal also plays its part in protecting the environment.
The steel that Gränsfors Bruk uses has been specially created to produce the perfect axe head. The steel must not be too hard, or too soft and pliable. Gränsfors Bruk maintains a constant dialogue with Ovako to secure its supply of steel best suited to axe production.