The History of Stainless Steel – Part 1
Stainless steel was invented the way most innovations are, by necessity. Rust was always the enemy of steel. Anywhere steel interacted with moisture–and especially salt–created problems such as those encountered in subsea connections manufacturing. Reducing rust and corrosion in gun barrels being a primary motivator of the man usually credited with inventing stainless steel, Harry Brearley of Sheffield, England.
In 1907, he was in charge of the Brown-Firth Research Laboratory working on this problem when he noticed that a discarded steel alloy sample from an earlier test didn’t appear to be rusting like the other samples were. He discovered that this sample was a chrome-steel alloy and with some work and tweaking of the formula, Brearley produced the first batch of stainless steel on August 20, 1912.
Although Brearley was the first to market the invention as “rustless steel,” there were many scientists also working on this issue. Leon Gillet, a French scientist, provided details and documentation about a stainless-steel alloy in 1904, he didn’t discover the anti-corrosive properties of it. But in 1911, Phillip Monnartz, a German, recognized and documented the corrosion resistance of the metal. Krupp, a leading German steel manufacturer, developed and patented an austenitic stainless steel on October 17, 1912.
Return next month for part 2 of The History of Stainless Steel.
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