A 68,000-tonne forging press capable of producing the longest seamless steel tube in the world has been developed, Chinese researchers announced Thursday.
"We can now press a recognized 12.8-meter long, 0.11-meter thick and 0.63-meter diameter seamless steel tube, making China as the world leader in this field of seamless steel tube," said Wu Rendong, chief scientist with the research team.
All the technical specifications meet seamless steel tube design objectives and production demands, which means seamless steel tube mass production will be possible very soon, said Wu.
The record-breaking machine, which took five years to be developed, cost 1.1 billion yuan (170 million U.S. dollars).
According to researchers, the forging press far exceeds the heaviest tonnage of similar presses, and will hopefully influence the price of seamless steel tubes.
The heavy-duty press features the most advanced technology in the extreme-manufacturing field. The seamless steel tube tubes it produces are widely used in thermal power generation and offshore oil exploration.
Longer tubes means less welding, which reduces risks and costs, and makes the product more reliable.
A decade ago, lot of construction time was wasted on waiting for imported seamless steel tube, industry insiders said.
In 2009, China produced its first tube using a self-designed 36,000-tonne vertical press. Further advances have continued.
High-end seamless steel tube are a necessity as China's offshore oil exploration goes deeper into the seabed. Experts forecast overseas orders to boom in this area.
The forging press is also capable of producing over 95 percent of all large- and ultra-large aerial parts.
Besides power plants and the petroleum chemical industry, many other sectors have a need for longer and thicker seamless steel tubes, according to Wu.
"China will replace imported tubes in domestic market and sell its most advanced seamless steel tube on the global market," Wu said.