Xian, China

When you think of steel, you should be keeping an eye on China. China’s steel industry produces 50% of the world’s steel. They also demand the most of any other country. After the opening of China’s economy in 1978, demand for steel has been nonstop. Building infrastructure, cities, cars, apartments, factories, and more, China has an insatiable need for steel. The middle class is growing, and so is their income. This has lead to large demand for automobiles in a country where just a few decades ago many people were riding bicycles. The amount of cars on the roads in some major cities has caused havoc. So much so, that some cities institute rules about when people can drive. Certain license plate numbers can drive on specific days, which is implemented to help reduce traffic. China holds the title as having the largest automotive industry. Production of cars in 2009 exceeded that of the European Union, or of Japan and the United States combined.

During the period before China’s economic revolution, steel was hard to come by. During Chairman Mao’s reign, he determined that steel production was key to the economy. He decided (rather arbitrarily) to double steel production in one year through backyard steel furnaces. Citizens were required to throw their scrap metal like pots, pans, etc, into the furnaces. These furnaces produced low quality iron and steel. Eventually Mao and his cohorts visited large factories in nearby Manchuria and found that high quality steel was being produced. They stopped with program soon after.

Though capitalism has crept into China, many steel groups are still state-owned. It is strange to think of a time when China’s steel industry was behind the rest of the world. They are now a powerhouse in terms of manufacturing. It will be interesting to keep an eye on the Middle Country for the next few decades as their population and middle class continues to grow and expand. New cities are popping up throughout the country, especially in the west where there is more land. And as these cities grow, more steel will be needed.



At Leveltek International, we are always looking for the incredible things that steel creates. The New Safe Confinement is the structure intended to contain the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, Ukraine, part of which was destroyed by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.


The sarcophagus that currently encases Unit 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is a giant metal concrete structure quickly constructed as an emergency measure in 1986 to halt the release of radiation into the atmosphere following the explosion. The official Russian name is “Obyekt Ukrytiye” which means shelter or covering.

It is estimated that within the shelter there is 200 tons of radioactive corium, 30 tons of contaminated dust and 16 tons of uranium and plutonium (source Wikipedia). In 1996 it was considered impossible to repair the sarcophagus as radiation levels within it were as high as 10,000 röntgens per hour (background radiation in cities is around 20-50 microröntgens per hour, a lethal dose being 500 röntgens over 5 hours).inside-sarcophagus

A decision to replace the sarcophagus with a “New Safe Containment” was taken and construction of the new structure is now well underway. Originally planned to be in place by 2005, the New Shelter is expected to be completed by the French consortium Novarka in 2015.




The Chernobyl New Safe Confinement is the largest moveable steel structure out there. It will prevent radioactive leakage from the old nuclear site. Just one way steel is keeping us safe! 

According to The Chernobyl Gallery, The New Safe Confinement (NSC or New Shelter) is the structure, paid for by the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, intended to fully contain the damaged nuclear reactor and prevent the reactor complex from leaking further radioactive material into the environment for the next 100 years. The confinement is expected to be completed by the French consortium Novarka in 2015.


Photographs of construction progress can be seen at


The word “confinement” is used rather than the traditional “containment” to emphasize the difference between the “containment” of radioactive gases that is the primary focus of most reactor containment buildings, and the “confinement” of solid radioactive waste that is the primary purpose of the New Safe Confinement.

Objectives of the NSC:


  • Make the destroyed ChNPP Unit 4 environmentally safe (i.e. contain the radioactive materials at the site to prevent further environmental contamination)
  • Reduce corrosion and weathering of the existing shelter and the Unit 4 reactor building
  • Mitigate the consequences of a potential collapse of either the existing shelter or the Unit 4 reactor building, particularly in terms of containing the radioactive dust that would be produced by such a collapse.
  • Enable safe deconstruction of unstable structures (such as the roof of the existing shelter) by providing remotely operated equipment for their deconstruction.

Watch this YouTube video to learn more about The Chernobyl New Safe Confinement

Steel may seem like a standard material in skyscrapers, office buildings, schools, and big retail stores, but it can be manipulated to create intricate structures and architectural wonders. Check out these eye-catching buildings created with structural steel:


1) Nascar Hall of Fame | Charlotte, North Carolina

Nascar Hall of Fame


Steel trusses are used to achieve significant spans in the project:

  • A set of trusses spanning 175 feet achieve a grand column-free ballroom
  • A 100-foot-long, bi-level footbridge, supported by a pair of one-story-deep trusses, links the ballroom with the existing Charlotte Convention Center
  • Two- and three-story-high trusses cantilever 30 feet over the broadcast studio.


2) City Creek Center Retractable Roof | Salt Lake City, Utah

City Creek Center Retractable Roof

The resulting retractable, barrel‐vaulted roof is configured in two sections, each spanning one city block:

  • Each section is 240 ft. long and 58 ft wide, with an S‐shape that echoes the curve of the signature City Creek
  • The precision‐sculpted steel and glass transparently shields patrons when closed, and disappears from sight when open; connecting nature with the areas below.


3) Bird’s Nest | Beijing, China

Bird's Nest

  • 110,000 tons of the steel were used in this structure built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
  • “In China, a bird’s nest is very expensive, something you eat on special occasions.”- New York Times
  • According to Reuters, more than 17,000 people worked on this one stadium alone


Gateway Arch | St. Louis, Missouri

Gateway Arch

  • The Arch is made of 142 stainless Steel Sections
  •  The structure was built as a monument to Thomas Jefferson and all those pioneers for who St. Louis was the Gateway to the West
  • The Gateway Arch is made of steel and concrete
  • Double wall construction with 1/4” stainless steel on the outside and 3/8” structural steel inside
  • The distance between the wall or “skins” at the surface is 3 feet, narrowing to less than 1 foot at the top
  • There is a layer of concrete between the skins approximately half way up the legs of the Gateway Arch


Sources: BDC Network

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 10.43.21 AMAt Leveltek International, we love to keep an eye on BIG projects going on around the country and the world. There are thousands of major construction projects underway as we speak. Some are bigger than others, but when it comes down to the amount of steel manufactured to complete these projects, its truly incredible.

This week, the last steel beam was put in place on the $800 million dollar VA Medical Center Facility in Aurora, Colorado. This massive replacement project, also known as “Project Eagle”, is a joint venture between Kiewit Building Group and Turner Construction.

All in all, since 2011, this total project has used 8,700 tons of steel, which is approximately equal to 2,175 elephants.

The 2+ million square foot facility will house a 30-bed community living center, a 30-bed spinal cord injury/disease center, a 182-bed tertiary, ambulatory care facility, a research building, a central utility plant and parking structures.

The project completion date, originally set for 2015 has been pushed to early 2016.

Steel is all around us. Take a look around your kitchen. From saucepans to cutlery it’s likely you don’t even realize how many everyday things you use are made of steel. Below are some everyday and some not so everyday uses of steel:


Pivoting steel doors lead into Studio Sitges, a house and photography studio in Spain by Olson Kundig


Tolix Marais Barstool


Pivoting steel doors lead into Studio Sitges, a house and photography studio in Spain by Olson Kundig


Stainless steel reusable straws, no more plastic!


Gril Bruvel “Dichotomy”


Nesting Bowls by R+R Handmade. Hand forged out of recycled steel.


Stainless Steel 1-Handle Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet.


BENWOOD, WV – Leveltek International, an industry leader that has been operating and producing stretch leveling equipment for more than 20 years, has been selected by BlueScope, an Australian steel company, to provide state-of-the-art stretch-leveling technology for a new coil plate processing line due to start supply in late 2014.

BlueScope announced they were investing in Leveltek International’s stretch leveling technology, along with Bradbury’s CTL equipment for a new coil plate processing line May 19. This technology, not used before in BlueScope’s Australian domestic product range, will provide customers with an industry-leading standard of consistently flat and memory free coil plate products.

“Leveltek is honored to be selected by BlueScope, a well respected leader in the steel industry, to help grow their coil plate business,” says Michael Kelly, President of Leveltek International. “For more than 20 years, we have been committed to providing quality and reliable services to our partners. It is a vote of confidence that BlueScope chose Leveltek and we are thrilled to expand our footprint across the globe.”

Ken Liddle, Market Manager for BlueScope says the decision to invest in the new coil plate processing line was made after considerable feedback from their customers. “Our customers have a preference to buy locally made high-quality steel and through this investment we are able to offer them such a product. The flatness and consistency of stretch-leveling is particularly suited to the industry’s growing preference towards laser cutting and will be appreciated by our customers,” says Liddle.

“BlueScope has utilized the expertise of industry leaders in stretch-leveling technology, Leveltek International LLC in West Virginia, and industry leaders in steel processing equipment, The Bradbury Co., Inc. in Kansas.”


Leveltek International designs, manufactures and installs stretch leveling systems for retrofit and new light-to-heavy gauge cut-to-length and coil-to-coil lines. Leveltek Stretch Leveling can help you cut sheets that satisfy fabricators’ increased demand for the memory-free steel required by laser and plasma cutting. The company was established in 1997 and has installations worldwide. Leveltek International is headquartered in Benwood, WV, about 60 miles (100km) west of Pittsburgh. For more information, call Leveltek International at 304.232.8530, e-mail or visit

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The heat is on across the Midwest following a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. But with that warm weather comes a cool down in steel sheet prices. The price climb that we saw earlier this year has since stalled and reversed course slightly as some mills in the Great Lakes region return to normal production levels. This comes as we’re heading into the seasonally slower summer months.

Market sources say that despite lead time and healthy demand, it wasn’t enough to justify further price increases, especially with more supply available. Many companies were hit by production or supply chain disruptions earlier this year, but have since resumed normal production.

According to an article by Michael Cowden with American Metal Market, an increasing spread between prices in the rest of the world is also keeping a lid on domestic hot-rolled tags. One Midwest service center was quoted saying, “Mills are entitled to be profitable, but it’s not real and it won’t last if it gets too far out of whack. And North America has been finessing a higher price than other industrialized parts of the world, which has some people concerned.”

Another thought is that the “out-of-whack” prices might be cold-rolled from China. Cold-rolled imports from China have surged as prices continued to nose-dive. Market sources said that there was concern Chinese cold-rolled prices were getting unusually close to hot-rolled offerings from Russia.

Still, not everyone is feeling that this cool down in domestic steel prices will happen because we’re expected to have an increase in demand from the non-residential construction sector.

It will be interesting to watch and see whose predictions play out over then next several months.

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