In the future there will be many new developments involving computer controls and automation that will improve economy and quality and lower energy consumption and pollution. More automation will also lead to more robots replacing humans in hazardous areas. Computers can be used to control several rolling mills operating as a continuous unit. The decreasing material thickness can be maintained automatically as it passes through the various mills to produce a more uniform final sheet. Continued research and development is ongoing to connect continuous casting machines with rolling mills to provide a single continuous process from molten metal to the final product. This will produce energy and cost savings because the material would not have to be reheated for processing, and result in a higher quality end product.
The use of 100% scrap in charging electric furnaces has cut the dependence on pig iron and ores, and has resulted in the development of more small steel mills, also called mini-mills, which can be located far from natural resources to serve wider geographical areas.
More net steel shapes will be formed using powder metallurgy as direct reduction processes produce steel powders directly from iron ore, bypassing the blast furnace and making difficult shapes easier to form.
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