History of Steel

Historical Development of Steel

The Iron industry has a long ancestry history with archaeological evidence of usage dating back to 1000 BC. In ancient times, Indus valley, Greeks and Egyptians used iron for structures and weapons making it a very important part of their existence. It is reported that wrought iron has been produced from the time of middle ages through the firing of iron ore and charcoal in a bloomery. Evidence of iron tie-bars have been found within arches of Haghia Sophia in Istanbul dating back as early as the 6th century. From 1490 a new innovative method of using a blast furnace was created, which significantly increased output, production capabilities and efficiency. The rolling mill was introduced a century later which further enhanced output and production.

Over the century’s, the various uses of steel has expanded extensively and simultaneously more efficient production methods were developed. England fueled demand for cast iron cannons, iron columns and cast iron railings which were erected around St. Paul Cathedral in London in 1710. Renaissance domes often relied on linked bars to reinforce their bases and a new degree of sophistication was reached by the design of Pantheon in Paris in 1770. During the 1780’s further improvements led to the development of workable wrought iron leading to the ability of producers to roll wrought iron into standard shapes allowing important structural advances and evolution within the market.

Huge Technological & Industrial revolutions occurred within the West which fueled the expansion of mills and the use of iron in the building of structures. The large-scale use of iron for structural purposes started in the later part of 18th century in Europe such as the large size cast iron bridge in England called the Coalbrookadale Arch Bridge. A move in preference of construction material occurred around 1840’s from cast iron towards wrought iron due to the greater ductile and malleable qualities. Steels strength, quality and evolution continued as producers began to add elements to improve the steel during the manufacturing process.

Coalbrookadale bridge

Sir Henry Bessemer of England invented and patented the process of making steel in 1855 know as the ‘Bessemer Process’ which was a very popular production method during the 19th century. During the 19th and 20th century there has been a move towards making better quality and different grades of steel with newer technology and production advances. Many different varieties of steel are produced today and commonly a range of elements such as carbon, manganese, silicon, chromium, nickel and molybdenum are added to suit the needs of broad and diverse range of uses.

Elle T. // Editor SMC

 Cite: Version II – Historical Development and Characteristics of Structural Steels