Technology: Tower of Steel

Though the U.S. is the world's largest steelmaker, most of the dramatic new techniques for better steelmaking have come from the other side of the Atlantic.

Austria's famed LD process, for example, has enabled U.S. steelmakers to make steel more quickly and at a lower cost by lacing their furnaces with liquid oxygen. Last week U.S. Steel, the biggest U.S. steelmaker, announced that it is borrowing yet another technique from Europe—one that may revolutionize the U.S. steel industry.

That technique is the continuous casting process, in which molten steel is formed into semifinished slabs in one unbroken step. Originally conceived by...

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