The use of steel goes all the way back to when iron first emerged, as this is one of the main components. Some historical findings suggest that iron was first used as early as 4000 BC. Steel is an alloy that is made from iron and carbon and was first created back in the Iron Age some 2000 years ago.
The Steelmaking Process in History
Back in historical times, steel was produced in crucibles and bloomeries. These were furnaces for smelting iron.
The oldest type of manufactured steel is Wootz steel, which came from a region of South India. This type of steel is high in carbon and so is very strong and super sharp. This is why it is used for the purpose of making sword blades. In fact, Damascus steel is a form of Wootz steel.
By the time 400 BC came around, people in China were already producing quench-hardened steel. This required a rapid cooling of the material to get a super hard surface layer. Around 200 years after this date in China wrought iron and cast iron was being melted to produce new carbon-dense steel.
The Modern Steelmaking Process
Ever since the 19th century, the steelmaking process has been changing constantly, thus making the material even more economical and usable for a wide variety of purposes. As it has changed, new types of steel and alloys have been produced. To get your hands on some of the best steel available on the market, visit steel products direct.
The expanding growth of the railroads back in the 19th century created a huge demand for both steel and iron. The creation of a technique called the Bessemer Process by a steelmaker based in the Yorkshire city of Sheffield allowed for the mass production of the material at a low cost and so meant that the demand for steel could be met. The main component used in the process is pig iron, which has a high carbon content and contains other materials such as manganese. During the Bessemer Process, any impurities that exist are removed from the molten iron through oxidation. This is beneficial as having too many impurities can make the steel brittle and prone to rusting. Thanks to this process, the steel that is produced is low in carbon, so it is ductile and very malleable. That being said, it does not quite have the same level of strength as high carbon steel. However, this is not something that was required when being used on the railroads, and so it was the perfect material.
Even since the development of the Bessemer Process, the art of steelmaking has come a very long way. This has now opened up the space to new and improved varieties of steel that are worlds away from the original material created all those years ago. There now exist lots of different methods to cool and harden steel, each with its own benefits and properties.