Research & Development


R&D and Technical Development at Comsteel is driven by a desire to supply our customers with the best possible products to fully satisfy their needs. This involves the manufacture of high integrity wheels that combine high internal micro-cleanness with optimal mechanical properties and enhanced service performance. The main objective is to produce wheels with longer service life before (or without) reprofiling. This can only be achieved by producing very clean steel wheels that have optimal metallurgical macro and micro structures, residual stress, high fracture toughness and high ductility.  

The process starts with the production of high quality ingots in Steelmaking. The inhouse steelmaking facilities allow Comsteel to have a full control over the quality of the steel as well as to conduct R&D activities for the development of new and enhanced grades. 

In the Hot Section process, a computer modelling program 2D/3D QForm™ Hot Forming simulator is used for accurate predictions for heating of steel in the furnace, forging, rolling and dishing of wheels. This is followed by simulations of heat treatment to ensure that the desired metallurgical structures and internal stresses are achieved within the optimal time. Optimisation of wheel design for better performance is done through ANSYS software that predicts thermal and mechanical stresses that wheels incur in service.  

The combination of state of the art computer packages with technical knowledge and expertise of Comsteel personnel results in high quality wheels for Freight, Passenger and Loco wheel market. 

Comsteel is engaged in joint R&D work with leading Australian universities that initially started in the mid 1980’s, looking at how heavy haul wheel performance could be improved.  

Comsteel has developed high hardness micro-alloy wheels which significantly increased wheel performance and dramatically decreased critical wheel failures. 

That was achieved through a combination of improved wheel design, specifically using plate designs which offer enhanced resistance to the effects of severe thermal loads during drag braking. Material grades with high resistance to wear, rolling contact fatigue and thermo-mechanical fatigue, as well as improved steel quality helps reduce the probability of shattered rims and similar catastrophic failure modes. 

R&D research into metallurgical properties of steel conducted at Comsteel Laboratories and at the Universities pave the way for development of wheels into the future market. 


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