Steel plate fabrication is an industry with a wide range of modern applications. On a grand scale, such plates may be utilized in the construction of buildings and ship hulls or more minutely as braces in bands for fractured wrists. These modern marvels exist due to the ingenuity of people and civilizations throughout history. |
Unlike some other metals, steel cannot be mined. It is a ferrous metal made from iron ore that is smelted in a furnace to remove impurities while carbon is added, producing a metal stronger and lighter than wrought iron while being more malleable.
Production of steel dates back as far as 13th century B.C. A primitive form known as "wootz" was devised in southern India around the 3rd century B.C. By the 1st century A.D., the imperial armies of ancient China, Greece, and Rome began to temper swords and armor with steel plate. Fabrication of these weapons, especially by the Romans, lead to harder and less brittle metal. In the 3rd century, the Chinese were developing an even higher quality of steel by employing a similar technique that Sir Henry Bessemer would eventually pioneer in the Industrial Era.
In 1540, an Italian named Vannoccio Biringuccio published work detailing precise methods of metallurgy. By the 1800s, due to the growth of railroads, the ferrous material had become infinitely more desirable yet still not cost effective enough to be manufactured efficiently in mass quantities.
In 1856, Sir Henry Bessemer developed a way to meet society's insatiable need for steel. The Bessemer process involved blowing compressed air through molten metal, which quickly removed impurities. In 1876, this method was perfected by the Welshman Sidney Thomas, thus opening the doors for the cheap manufacture of metals on a previously unprecedented scale. Entrepreneurs such as Andrew Carnegie took advantage of this new technology to become forerunners of the industry in the U.S.
In the medical field, in 1883, surgeon W.A. Lane devised a method to use plates and screws to repair bones. First utilized internally on a patient by German Doctor H. Hansmann, these early plates over time proved incompatible with the human body. In 1926, stainless steel, not being corrosive, was adopted for this purpose, paving the way for such fictional flights of fancy as "The Bionic Man" and "The Terminator."
On a more industrial scale, the first steel hull steamship, named the Chattahoochee, was built under contract by James Rees and Sons in 1881. In the 1920s, a Chicago company developed the first plated security vehicles out of old school buses.
Today many tall buildings in Japan and North America have been built using steel plate shear walls as reinforcement against wind and hurricanes.
Steel plate fabrication may have deep roots in history, but innovations could be just around the corner. Nonetheless, its presence throughout history and civilization is inextricably linked to progress in technology, architecture, and warfare.
When looking for steel plate fabrication, clients visit Genzink Steel. Learn more at http://www.genzinksteel.com/services/steel-plate-burning/.
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