Björn Olsson, Group Application Specialist and segment manager for rock tools, explains how the Steel Navigator is a platform that helps customers maximise value and highlights future developments.

At Ovako, we know that steel is incredibly complicated. When specifying a steel, engineers face a complex set of decisions covering the alloying grade, material properties, cleanness, surface finish, and dimensional tolerances, and in some cases machinability.

We initially launched the Steel Navigator in 2016 as a section on our website for customers to compare different steel grades and their performance. Since then, we’ve added more tools and resources to help design and manufacturing engineers find the right steels for their needs.

These are designed to cut through the complexities of alloy composition, cleanness and material properties. Customers can simply focus on their applications and processing requirements.

Steel Navigator
sustainability CO2 cloud icon

Today, the navigator not only hosts the material data sheets but also a library of technical reports and news about our latest developments,. As well as some advanced simulation tools for Heat treatment, machining and piston rod buckling prediction. Design engineers can browse and search according to alloying composition, our steel families and by material properties such as weldability and hardenability.

CO2 footprint as a property of steel

We regularly add new features to extend the Steel Navigator’s capabilities. The next addition is CO2 emissions, which will be added to the Material Data Sheets.

As sustainability has become more important in the procurement and specification process, we now consider CO2 footprint to be a material property in a similar way to a steel’s physical properties. The CO2 emissions of any steel product are a function of its alloy composition, as well as the energy used for melting and subsequent hot-forming, cold rolling and heat treatment.

Our CO2 emissions are based on a cradle to gate process that cover Scopes 1-3 in a set of standard formats.

Heat treatment guide

Our heat treatment guide is part of the Steel Navigator and linked to the data in material datasheets. It helps engineers understand how different alloying elements influence hardness after quenching and tempering. Hardness after quenching depends on the cooling rate and the alloy composition and is expressed on a CCT diagram or Jominy-curve that engineers can read so they know how to apply heat treatment.

By inputting their desired alloy composition, engineers can evaluate what hardness can be achieved through heat treatment. The tool is based on data from laboratory testing that is extended to cover any possible grade by triangulating between known data points, providing engineers with potential to explore new ideas.

Heat Treatment Guide
M-Steel Calculator

M-Steel calculator

Machining is at the core of another important module in the Steel Navigator called the M-Steel calculator.

This enables engineers to compare conventional steel with our M-Steel (machining steel). M-Steel is based on the same set of alloys as conventional steel. However, during its production, we apply a process to form tiny non-metallic inclusions in the body of the steel. These are helpful during machining as they encourage chips to form. They also create a protective layer to prevent tools overheating, which extends tool life.

Engineers can use the M-Steel calculator to choose the optimum grade of M-Steel. They can explore the settings for turning, drilling or sawing and adjust variables such as steel variant, type and lifetime of tool, and machine feed and cut depth.

In return, the calculator will provide a comparison with conventional steel. This shows the maximum cutting speed and surface quality that can be achieved, the flow rate of chips that will be produced and the input power required. 

Piston Rod Predictor

A piston rod predictor is another major module in the Steel Navigator. It provides engineers with the data they need for selecting hard chrome plated products for piston rods in hydraulic systems.

The challenge when designing hydraulic cylinders is that their long and slender shape makes them vulnerable to failure by buckling. By choosing a steel grade with higher strength, an engineer can achieve better resistance to buckling. As a result, they could design machines for higher loads or they could reduce the weight and cost of their machines.

The piston rod predictor lets engineers compare different of steel that are often used in pistons with Ovako’s Cromax steel family. The calculator is based on two common methodologies for calculating buckling resistance: the European Conventional for Constructional Steelwork (ECCS) and the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) procedures.

Steel Navigator - Piston rod predictor

Looking ahead to future developments

While we are pleased to have developed the Steel Navigator as a useful tool for our customers, there is always more to do. Today, we’re looking at further improvements in the Material Data Sheets and M-Steel Calculator tools. In addition, we’re planning to publish new technical reports and explanations covering the fundamentals of steel, and we regularly publish news.

However, we will always welcome suggestions and ideas from customers for tools that could help them overcome day-to-day challenges.

Please contact to submit your ideas on how we can grow the Steel Navigator.