Firms' successes reflect growing industrial ability
With a steel product 0.015 mm thick－less than a quarter the thickness of a standard sheet of A4 paper－and 600 mm wide, one doesn't need the strength of the Incredible Hulk to rip it apart.
The extremely thin stainless steel sheet, aka "hand-tear steel" because it can be easily torn by hand, was finally produced after 700 failed attempts by Taiyuan Iron and Steel Group, in which the Shanxi provincial government holds a controlling stake.
The steel is used in a wide range of sectors in high-end manufacturing, and also for foldable screens in high-end electronics, flexible solar modules and energy-storage batteries.
Data from the company, also known as Tisco, show that more than 50 metric tons of hand-tear steel have been used in manufacturing across several sectors since 2018. The steel is the market leader in China with a share of 70 percent.
Liao Xi, deputy head of technology and quality at Tisco Precise Strip Steel, a Tisco subsidiary, said: "The company can meet wide demand from both domestic and overseas customers, including for customized hand-tear steel products. No more than three companies in the world can match what we do."
Gao Xiangming, Tisco's chairman, said the successful research and development of hand-tear steel has promoted the growth and upgrading of key materials in the high-end manufacturing industry.
Hand-tear steel is just one of many achievements of the company's R&D team in recent years. It has also developed products such as duplex stainless steel rebars for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge project and large high-purity seamless stainless steel circular forgings for a nuclear power project in Fujian province.
The forgings will be used as the supporting ring for a pilot 600,000-kilowatt fast reactor in Xiapu county, Ningde city. The ring, which will endure temperatures of up to 650 C, will have a working life of about 40 years.
Gao said Tisco is now ramping up efforts to optimize company structures, encourage technological R&D and improve staff training to make it a leading global manufacturer.
The development of hand-tear steel and the stainless steel forgings are among many achievements in high-quality development made by companies based in Shanxi.
In recent years, the province has stepped up efforts to make breakthroughs in fields such as new infrastructure, new materials and new technologies.
At the Huawei Shanxi (Lyuliang) Big Data Center, more than 900 servers run simultaneously, using fast calculating speeds and efficient storage functions. Xinhua News Agency estimates that the center will generate revenue of 500 million yuan ($77.7 million) this year.
According to Wu Hongwen, head of the Shanxi Department of Industry and Information Technology, the province had installed 16,281 fifth-generation base stations by the end of last year and applied the technology to coal mining operations.