Stainless Steel History

While a stainless steel alloy was patented in 1872 it was not commercialized until being 'invented again' in 1912.  The even tougher Maraging steel including its stainless version was not developed until the late 1950s.  Maraging

Prior to 1912 silverware was pretty much just that, silver, or it rusted.  Forks became much more popular in stainless since they were especially hard to keep rust free.

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Aluminum {1888}  History

While aluminum was identified in 1782 but was often considered more precious than gold until a foundry was set up in 1888. 

Titanium {1910}  History

Titanium was first recognized in 1791 but not successfully processed into a pure form until 1910 then in any quantity until 1925.  Even the most modern titanium processing is expensive, dangerous, and improbable looking.


First discovered in 1801 but not isolated into a usable form until the 1860s.  Alloyed with steels it both increases ductile strength and reduces weight.  Helps make superior gears and was used by Henry Ford in his early Model T chassis which is one of the reasons that so many Model Ts are still roadworthy a century later. 

Image result for model t vanadium

Image result for model t vanadium

      Vanadium steel was also used for the connecting rods in the T1 series of locomotives.

      These also incorporated a poppet valve design, which enabled them to run at higher speeds than anything else then on the rails.  Speeds of 120MPH were documented, and up to 140MPH were claimed.  Unfortunately, operation at speeds above 100MPH could, and did, cause damage to the poppet valves, and T1s would often have to limp into a station at reduced speed, and get sent to the repair yard. The power of these locomotives could easily induce wheel slip that caused them to overrun their specified speed limit, and create the same kind of valve damage.  Rather than find a solution to these issues, The Pennsylvania Railroad decided to replace them with diesels.


There is a legend that 14th century Japanese swordsmiths intended to add molybdenum to their blades making them lighter and much tougher.  The secret was either lost shortly or the fortuitous accident was not repeated in later Japanese swords. 

Although Molybdenum was officially identified in the 18th century its value in steel alloys was not appreciated until WW I where is allowed the production of superior armor plating and Krupp Steel's infamous super howitzer known as Big Bertha.

Molybdenum could have advanced steam age technology significantly if it had only been tried decades earlier.  It is still a fairly common addition to stainless steels sometimes referred to as Chrome-Moly. 

Image result for the brothers o'toole molybdenum

You might want to look this old movie up for more. 


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