steel fabrication

Steel fabrication services from Steelwork Engineering

The chances are that steel is something you largely take for granted; however from contemporary steel-framed buildings through to the cutlery you eat with, the production of steel has helped to forge society as we know it.

A long history, forged over many centuries

We’ve been using steel for thousands of years and archaeologists know that, thanks to a fragment of ironware found in Turkey, the production of steel started approximately 4000 years ago.

The start of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century triggered the development of modern society, with the pivotal role played by steel production rapidly overtaking that of cast iron. Steel offers a number of benefits in comparison to cast iron; including malleability, versatility and durability. Despite the fact that steel had been in use for thousands of years, up until the start of the Industrial Revolution, steel items were produced in very small quantities by local craftsmen.

The development of large-scale production methods was one of the most significant aspects of the Industrial Revolution and resulted in manufacturers having the capability to produce forgeable metal. It was the development of the Bessemer Process in the 1850s which led to the first feasible method of large-scale structural steel production.

Steel production today

The Industrial Revolution and Henry Bessemer’s invention of the Bessemer Converter in 1857 changed the steel production process forever. Until this point, steel had been extremely costly to produce which meant that it was mainly used to make costly items such as knives, swords and battle armour, whilst larger, structural items were still manufactured from cast or wrought iron.

As a result of the Bessemer Process, UK steel production grew rapidly, with Sheffield quickly becoming the home of low-cost steel manufacturing. Steel was now being used widely in everything from steel ship plate through to the production of railway tracks.

Around the middle of the 20th century, the Bessemer Process gradually began to be replaced by open-hearth steelmaking, a method which allow improved control over the composition of the steel and used pig iron, ore and scrap metal. Although the open-hearth method allowed manufacturers to use a higher proportion of scrap metal without any effect on the finished product, this method was superseded by the arrival of electric arc furnaces in the 1900s.

Contact Steelwork Engineering

We’re delighted to report that steel production is still going strong and it’s incredible to consider how just one material has played such a significant part in the development of the modern world. Here at Steelwork Engineering we’re proud to manufacture a wide range of high-quality steel products, ranging from steel fabricated buildings through to steel racking and builders’ beams. If you would like to find out more about our product range and services, why not get in touch today?