Strip Crown Prediction: Developing a Refined Dynamic Roll-Stack Model for the Hot Rolling Process
The steel industry has been producing flat plates through the process of hot rolling since the late 1600s. Hot rolling uses a series of rolls to progressively thin a strip of steel to a desired thickness. In deforming the strip, the rolling process causes variations in thickness across the width of the strip. These variations are commonly referred to as crown, which is specifically the difference in thickness between the center and edge of a strip. For most applications steel mill clients require flat products, or products with little variation in thickness. Therefore, variations represent wasted material which must be removed before the plate or sheet can be used in consumer products. Controlling the flatness of the metal strip is a high priority for the hot rolling business.
The purpose of this work was to develop a 3-D dynamic model of the rolling process to simulate the behaviour of a strip while being rolled and predict its profile. To accomplish this task, much of the rolling process needed to be modeled. The profile of the strip is a product of the deformation of the rolls and frame within a mill stand. Therefore, not only did the geometry of these components need to be modeled, but the material properties and dynamic motion were required as well. The dynamic nature of the process necessitated the modeling of the rotation of the rolls and translation of the strip, aspects of rolling which are not typically simulated.
Five models were developed during the project. The purpose of the first two models was to find the stiffnesses of the roll-stack and stand frame. The roll-stack refers to the rolls and their arrangement. The reference mill from which data was provided used a four-high roll-stack with two rolls above the strip and two below. The frame that holds the roll-stack, while massive, stretches when the strip is deformed between the rolls. This stretch changes the position of the rolls affecting the load and deformation of the strip. A lumped-mass model was created to simulate the dynamics of the roll-stack and frame. When the strip enters the gap between the rolls, there is a large impact force which causes the rolls to vibrate. The lumped-mass model was used to determine parameters to bring the system to steady state. The final two models simulated the entire rolling process with rotating rolls and moving strip. The 3-D dynamic rolling model was capable of predicting the strip profile due after exiting the rolls. Two calibrations were used to reduce model error before running a validation.
The rolling causes thickness variation across the width of the metal strips; therefore, strips are intentionally rolled thick to meet a minimum thickness. In modern steel mills, specialized control systems are used to adjust parameters as the steel strip passes through each stand of rolls. Varying the parameters allows the thickness and profile of the strip to be controlled. Each stand may have several rolls in different configurations. These rolls are either work rolls, which directly contact the strip, or backup rolls, which contact the work rolls and stiffen the roll-stack. The stand frame holds the rolls and provides a means to position them.
The validation results showed that the exit thickness, strip crown, and rolling load were less than 5% different from the values measured in the test data. The calibrated model was then used to derive strip crown sensitivities to gap, entry crown, work roll crown, and bending force. The 3-D dynamic model was able to predict the strip crown accurately when given calibrated information about the system. This model will be a useful tool for exploring the mechanics of hot rolling in ways that were not previously possible.