The Timken Co. is well known as a supplier of steel products to forgers. Now, it’s joining the group. The company’s Faircrest Steel plant in Canton, OH, is the site of North America’s first in-line forging press, an open-die operation in the service of higher steel volumes and better quality steel products.

Faircrest was developed more than two decades ago as a greenfield operation, with a capacity of about 500,000 tons/year. It produces large-dimension engineered steel long products, poured as ingots and rolled to bars and blooms. “Over the past 20 years or so, we’ve been able to increase our capacity from to over 1 million tons/year,” explained Tom Moline, vice president for steel manufacturing at Timken, “and we’ve done that without making any significant capital investment in the plant, mostly through continuous improvement projects.

“But, what we’ve seen recently is that there is an increase in demand for the types of clean, highly engineered steel products that we make,” he continued, “particularly in the industrial segment, and in the oil-and-gas segment for various applications.”

Thus, Timken initiated a $270-million effort to add steelmaking capacity, and to do so in ways that would ensure the quality of the steel would be maintained and the efficiency of the operation would be improved. 

The keystone of the expansion will be a four-strand, vertical continuous caster producing “jumbo” blooms. It’s under construction now, for completion next year. “It will allow us to continuously cast products, as opposed to bottom-pouring ingots, which is what we do today,” Moline explained, “and still get the same high quality and cleanliness that we get out of our bottom-poured products. But, we’ll gain a significant yield and capacity advantage in the casting process. That’s going to give us about 125,000 additional tons per year of steel capacity.” Ingot pouring will continue, on a reduced scale.

Along with the caster, Timken is adding a second ladle refining station. As casting capacity increases, the second ladle station will mean that Faircrest’s electric arc furnace can melt heats faster, thereby adding another 40,000 tons/year of capacity.

But, it’s the $35-million in-line forge press that is already showing the rewards after nearly two years of capital investment.