Burleigh Industries started a little more than a year ago selling low-carbon steel shot manufactured by Tosyali Steel and has quickly made a name for itself in the industry because of its product’s durability. “There is only one other low-carbon steel shot manufacturer selling product in the U.S. and their product is not good quality,” President Lawrence Green says. “There are two manufacturers of high-carbon steel abrasives in the U.S. and we beat the durability of their products by 15 to 20 percent. We have a distinct quality advantage over them.”
Green started in the steel abrasives industry 29 years ago, working for one of the largest manufacturers in the world. In 2016, Green founded the Simpsonville, S.C.-based company Burleigh Industries as the U.S. sales arm for Tosyali Holdings based in Istanbul. Burleigh Industries’ manufacturing plant is in Turkey and skilled and experienced distributors sell its product, KOTAR Steel Shot, throughout the United States.
“Burleigh customers are our distributors and we have a special relationship with these folks. Too many manufacturers end up competing in the market place with their distributors and end up in contentious relationships that hurt their business. We will never do this. We expect loyalty from our sales group and in return we give them ours,” Green explains. “We sell to distributors who are then selling in the marketplace to foundries, steel fabrication companies, general engineering businesses and companies looking to remove contaminants from manufactured parts.
“Our goal is to support our team of distributors by training their salespeople on the advantages of KOTAR steel shot and support them in front of the end users by helping their customers reduce cost and improve productivity in their blast cleaning operation,” he continues. “One of the ways we do this is through free operator and maintenance personnel training and in-depth machine inspections. The end users see the difference in our product, primarily in the durability, because it lasts a long time compared to the competition, but also in improved cleaning efficiency and reduced equipment maintenance costs.”
Burleigh Industries specializes in just one product – KOTAR low-carbon steel shot – that is graded into the 11 Automotive Engineers [SAE] standards specification sizes. The Tosyali Group of manufacturing plants supply scrap steel from its other facilities to the company’s KOTAR shot manufacturing plant. The steel scrap is melted in four electric induction furnaces up to 3,000 F before atomizing giving the plant a capacity of 65,000 tons per year.
“The molten steel is poured through crucible orifices onto accurately controlled jets of water, so we are basically mixing molten steel with water, which any foundry would tell you to avoid at all costs because you could create an explosion,” Green says. “When the molten metal hits the water jet, it causes a firework display of sparks. Every one of these sparks becomes a round particle of steel when they hit the quench tank and sink to the bottom. Depending on the pressure of the water, the volume and the water temperature, the plant generates a full distribution of sizes in a predictable bell curve. The products are screened into the Automotive Engineers [SAE] standards.”
Skilled furnace operators are well trained for what to look out for when it comes to staying safe and all wear protective clothing, helmets and face shields to prevent burns while they are near the furnaces. The process under these controlled conditions is no more unsafe than operating a typical furnace in any foundry.
The KOTAR steel shot is then dried, screened, quality checked one final time and packaged to go out to the customer. The product is packaged either in 50-pound bags, 1-ton drums, or super sacks to meet the customer’s requirements. “The steel itself is very low in carbon content, between 0.1 to 0.15 percent and has 1.3 to 1.5 percent manganese added to it, which makes the particles impact resistant so they don’t break up quickly when blasting customer components,” Green explains.
The manufacturing process generates particles that are stress crack free and with a bainitic microstructure that is ideal for blast cleaning processes. “The product starts its life around 40 Rockwell C. The SAE- hardness range specification is between 39 and 50 Rockwell C, so we are at the bottom end of that range when the product is new, but always in spec,” Green explains. “Our product hardness increases very quickly in use, raising it to between 45 to 48 Rockwell C where it remains for the duration of its life.”
The KOTAR steel shot plant receives high-quality, consistent scrap steel from any one of Tosyali’s steel mills located near the shot plant. “Every other manufacturer making steel abrasives isn’t owned by a steel mill company and must buy scrap on the open market,” Green says. “Automotive and foundry scrap is typically used by our competition and is mixed together into a menu to get as close as possible to the desired chemical analysis they believe to be the best blend to give them the most consistent quality. In contrast, all the materials we are melting are the same quality every time.”
Even though the KOTAR production plant knows its scrap steel is the same high quality every time, the company still checks each melt for chemical analysis and screens the product to be sure the products meet the specifications before being packaged. “The microstructure, chemical analysis and hardness are also checked to ensure everything falls into place before it gets shipped,” Green adds. “A certificate of conformance is generated with each load shipped, giving us the confidence we need that we are selling a great product.”
Steel abrasives have been used for more than 100 years to clean metal parts, but the thing that makes Burleigh Industries’ KOTAR product different is the consistency of the base materials and the control of the atomizing process technology, Green says. “I’ve worked for the competition before and I can tell you several manufacturers have tried to talk with the plant Managing Director Adnan Aytekin to get him to do some consultancy work so they can improve their products,” he adds. “The plant is currently working on a new PLUS product that is being beta tested as we speak, which will revolutionize the low carbon shot market worldwide. The launch of this product may well be in time for FABTECH this year in Chicago.”
Burleigh Industries’ KOTAR low-carbon steel shot is “extremely round” when it is manufactured because of the company’s technology and high-quality materials. “Manufacturers in this country struggle with mis-shapes,” Green says. “They have to add an additional spiraling process to their production processes to try and match what we have.”
The company can produce very high-quality steel shot because of the production controls it has, as well as the steel scrap provided by Tosyali, which is the seventh-largest steel manufacturer in the world, Green notes. “We are looking to increase our volume in the U.S. market and aim to sell 5,000 tons per year within the coming 12 months,” he adds. “There is good potential for building a plant in the U.S. to produce our product here and we hope to achieve that within two to three years.”
Sidebar: Attracting Customers
In November, Burleigh Industries will attend FABTECH in Chicago with its distributors and hopes to attract new customers. “We are raising the profile of our company with the aim of finding new distributors and customers,” Green says. “Our growth has started off slowly because we are introducing a new product to a market that previously only had three players. It hasn’t been easy, but now we are starting to get a reputation with larger end users and our business is growing.”