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Tempered Will

Stainless steel celebrates a century of rustless existence

Tempered Will
AFP (From Outlook 12 August 2013)
Tempered Will
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Stainless steel—that long-enduring, lustrous material which we reflexively think of as a marker of ‘modern’ life, much like neon lights, Disney cartoons and zip fasteners—is one hundred years old. Well, saying it like that immediately raises two possible points of contention. One relates to the “rustless wonders” made of that old Indian alloy, panchaloha, which has a minor headstart of some two millennia. The other is less grandiose, a quibble about dates. By now, it’s well accepted that stainless steel was invented in August 1913 by Harry Brearley, a self-taught metallurgist and analytical chemist. He made the first commercial cast of stainless steel on August 20, 1913, at Tho­mas Firth and Sons. Cast No. 1008, as it was known, had a composition of 12.8% chrom­ium, 0.24% carbon, 0.44% manganese and 0.20% silicon. Like many other inventions, it was a happy accident. And yes, society was slow to grasp its utility.

Harry Brearley was born in 1871 in Sheffield into a penurious family of a steel plant worker. To supplement the...

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