Metallurgy for the

Non Metallurgist

Lesson 1
A History of Metals
October 02, 2008

Richard Boswell, P.E.
Mechanical Engineer


A History of Metals

ƒ Upon completion of the lesson, we will be
able to:
– Summarize the history of metallurgy from ancient
to modern times.
– Define metal, ore, alloy, refining and smelting.
– Outline the relative availability of specific metals.


Our Reference
Document for this

ASM Course 0135
Lesson 1


An element that readily loses electrons to form positive ions (cations) and forms metallic bonds between other metal atoms ƒ Ore – a volume of rock containing components or minerals that have economic value ƒ Alloy – combination of metals by melting (naturally or intended) ƒ Refining – selective removal of metal from ore ƒ Smelting – extracting metal from ore by heating 4 . Terminology ƒ Metal – a mineral or compound naturally occurring near the Earth surface and is sometimes described as a lattice of positive ions surrounded by a cloud of delocalized electrons.

– Crystalline in the solid state – Solid at ambient temperatures o Except for Mercury 5 . History of Metals ƒ What is a metal? – Opaque. lustrous element that is a good conductor of electricity and heat and a good reflector of light when polished.

Polished low alloy steel showing light reflection .

. – Two important ancient discoveries…. o Metal could be obtained from ores by heating o Strength could be increased by hammering 7 . History of Metals ƒ Ancient Metals – Most metals naturally occur as minerals or compounds – Ancient man used Gold. Silver or Copper because they naturally existed in the form of metals – Copper ore reduction from copper sulfides (covellite and malachite) began between 4000 and 3000 B.C.

similar to today’s composition. 8 . C. History of Metals ƒ Bronze Age – Addition of tin to copper to form bronze o ~ 88% Cu -12% Sn – By 3000 B. ancient metallurgists had learned to intentionally mix ores of copper and tin to produce bronze.

. Egyptians. iron (from meteors) and mercury. Of the seven metals. five can be found in their native states. Greeks and the Romans. smelted -1500 BC (7) Mercury – 750 BC These metals were known to the Mesopotamians. silver.g. Metals of Antiquity The metals upon which civilization was based. e. gold. These seven metals were: (1) Gold – 6000 BC (2) Copper – 4200 BC (3) Silver – 4000 BC (4) Lead – 3500 BC (5) Tin -1750 BC (6) Iron. copper. 9 .

T I M E L I N E 10 .

C. Time-Life Books Emergence of Man The Metalsmiths 1974 Fifth Century B. Smiths forging sickle at La Tene in Lower Austria 11 .

Smiths forge at La Tene in Lower Austria was used 2500 years ago 12 .

Celtic tools from La Tene were used 2500 years ago 13 .

Technology Distribution Part 1 Celtic Iron Age technology is commonly considered to begin around 1000 B. in Celtic Britain and ended with the arrival of Roman influence. and 14 lasting through 100 A.C.D. .

on the other hand. for not every area was naturally endowed with the necessary ores to make bronze. it changed trade and fostered local independence. The Advent of Iron in Celtic Briton ƒ The use of iron had amazing repercussions. ƒ First. 15 . ƒ Trade was essential during the Bronze Age. ƒ Iron. was relatively cheap and available almost everywhere.

and removal ƒ Roman influence shaped the world until the “Barbarian” invasions changed it again.more technology distribution …. They also settled the Faroe Islands. Norway and Sweden. http://www. And then….htm 16 . a center of learning famous across the continent. ƒ The Vikings who invaded western and eastern Europe were chiefly from Denmark. 793 when Norsemen destroyed the abbey on Iceland. Greenland and (briefly) North America. and again… – Goths – Huns – Vandals – Viking – (Crusades) – Mongols ƒ In England the Viking Age began dramatically on January 6..

C. 17 . Old World Metal Centers date to 9500 B. and were either sources or manufacturing sites.

1343 B. 18 .King Tut funeral mask of beaten gold.C.

and Electrum (natural alloy of gold and silver) 19 . Silver. Gold.

Multicolored Copper Components of Bronze (Copper and Tin) 20 .

Early sources were meteoric forms before smelting mastered in 1200 B.C. Iron. a metal for the Masses is second most common metal. 21 .

C. – Tin – 3000 B. ƒ Requires a very hot fire – Technology borrowed from Ceramic/Pottery Crafts? – Charcoal for fuel – Air is blown into the fire 22 . Smelting is Extraction of Metal from Ore ƒ Smelting is Extraction of Metal from Ore – Gold – already pure in nature and not extracted – Silver and Lead – 4000 B. – Iron – 2700 B.C.C.

The ores must be reacted under a controlled temperature and gas atmosphere. historic account we find some of the basic problems of process metallurgy. tin. copper. lead. ƒ The metal must be worked to achieve desired final properties and shape. ƒ The liquid metal must be collected and cast into a desired shape. The problems are: ƒ The ores must be found. separated and sized before use. mercury and iron. Common Issues These seven metals: gold. and the alloys bronze and electrum were the starting point of metallurgy and even in this simple. silver. 23 .

History of Discovery Before 1700 there were 12 12 Metals Discovered in 18th metals in common use: Century: ƒ Gold ƒ 1735 Cobalt ƒ Silver ƒ 1751 Nickel ƒ Copper ƒ Lead ƒ 1774 Manganese ƒ Mercury ƒ 1781 Molybdenum ƒ Iron ƒ 1782 Tellurium ƒ Tin ƒ 1783 Tungsten ƒ Platinum ƒ 1789 Uranium ƒ Antimony ƒ Bismuth ƒ 1789 Zirconium ƒ Zinc ƒ 1791 Titanium ƒ Arsenic ƒ 1794 Yttrium ƒ 1797 Berylium ƒ 1797 Chromium Before 1805 all metals were reduced by either carbon or hydrogen 24 .

Dysprosium Cadmium. Magnesium. 42 METALS DISCOVERED IN 19th CENTURY ƒ 1801 Niobium ƒ 1802 Tantalum ƒ 1843 Erbium. Terbium ƒ 1803 Iridium. Radium ƒ 1827 Aluminum ƒ 1899 Actinium ƒ 1828 Thorium ƒ 1830 Vanadium ƒ 1839 Lanthanum 25 . ƒ 1878-1885 Holmium. Barium. Rhodium ƒ 1860 Cesium. ƒ 1817 Lithium. ƒ 1844 Ruthenium Palladium. Thulium. Rubidium ƒ 1807 Potassium. Neodynium. ƒ 1861 Thallium Sodium ƒ 1863 Indium ƒ 1808 Boron.Praseodynium. Selenium ƒ 1886 Germanium ƒ 1823 Silicon ƒ 1898 Polonium. ƒ 1814 Cerium Gadalinium. ƒ 1875 Gallium Calcium. Samarium. Strontium Scandium.

20 METALS DISCOVERED IN 20th CENTURY ƒ 1901 Europium ƒ Californium ƒ 1907 Lutetium ƒ Einsteinium ƒ 1917 Protactinium ƒ Fermium ƒ 1923 Hafnium ƒ Mendelevium ƒ 1924 Rhenium ƒ Nobelium ƒ 1937 Technetium ƒ Lawrencium ƒ 1939 Francium ƒ 1945 Promethium ƒ 1940-61Transuranium elements ƒ Neptunium ƒ Plutonium ƒ Curium ƒ Americum ƒ Berkelium 26 .

Civilizations and Eras defined by their Material Technology ƒ Stone Age ƒ Age of Steel ƒ Copper Age ƒ Petroleum Age ƒ Bronze Age ƒ Iron Age ƒ Industrial Age ƒ Dark Ages ƒ Age of Flight ƒ Medieval Ages ƒ Space Age -Sputnik ƒ Modern Metal ƒ Nuclear Age Age consists of ƒ Computer Age many over- lapping ƒ Composite Material Age Technical Ages ƒ Nano Tech Age after 1300 27 ƒ Green Age ? .

which has a high tensile strength. much larger bridges were built. With the advent of steel. Design Technology Change form Compression to Tension ƒ With the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. but iron did not have the tensile strength to support large loads. many using the ideas of Gustave Eiffel. ƒ The Eiffel Tower was built for the International Exhibition of Paris of 1889 ƒ Riveted lattice wind resistant design ƒ The Forth Bridge is a cantilever railway bridge over the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland opened in 1890 28 . truss systems of wrought iron were developed for larger bridges.

Technologies Fade Away ƒ Blacksmith – Essential skills for 12.000 years – Industrial Age made the skill ‘obsolete’ around 1930 – Smiths migrated into towns and were absorbed by other industries such as large industrial forge shops and auto repair garages ƒ Metallurgy and Materials – Essential skills for 500 years – Tomorrow? Will Green Age and composite materials render metallurgy obsolete? ƒ Will natural and/or man-made disaster erase today’s centers of learning and manufacture? 29 .

Georgius Agricola (1494-1555) ƒ Georg Bauer. 30 . one year before the posthumous publication of De Re Metallica. The translators were Herbert Hoover. ƒ The publication was delayed until the completion of the extensive and detailed woodcuts. and smelting metals. refining. published in 1556. his greatest work. a mining engineer (and later President of the United States). the first English translation of De Re Metallica was privately published in London by subscription. Lou Henry Hoover. which involved making a fire against a rock-face. ƒ In 1912. better known by the Latin version of his name Georgius Agricola. and then quenching the rock with water to induce cracking by thermal shock. ƒ He died in 1555. a geologist and Latinist. and his wife. is considered the founder of geology as a discipline. ƒ De Re Metallica (Latin for On the Nature of Metals (Minerals)) is a book cataloging the state of the art of mining. ƒ He describes the method of breaking hard rocks using fire-setting.

Bronze Age Weapons 31 .

the largest gold coin ever minted in Antiquity 32 . a standardized innovations: the use of counters to silver coin. KINGS of Lydia Electrum coin. ƒ Both of these developments had Early 6th century BC. and later with the use of silver ingots to represent stored value in the form of grain. occurred by 2000 BC. assure that shipments arrived with the same goods that were shipped. ƒ Currency evolved from two basic A Roman denarius. ƒ Originally money was a form of receipting grain stored in temple granaries in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Gold 20-stater of Eucratides I ( reigned 171–145 BC). Coins ƒ Romans exported coin technology to Celtic Britton.

Austria. Switzerland. to the establishment of Romanesque art in the 12th century 33 . the Czech Republic. Celtic Metal Art ƒ La Tène culture developed and flourished during the late Iron Age (from 450 BCE to the Roman conquest in the 1st century BCE) in eastern France. southwest Germany. Slovakia and Hungary. ƒ Celtic art in the Middle Ages was practiced by the Celtic speaking people of Ireland and Britain in the 800 year period from the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century.

archaeologists uncovered a singularly remarkable haul of a single kind of Roman artifact from around 83 . found in Egypt.the Fabrica. 34 .ƒ Bronze nails.was a remarkable hoard of nails. have been dated 3400 BC. Roman nail ƒ Located in a twelve foot found in Wales deep pit below the beaten 19th Century "Square" Nails earth floor of the workshop . over eight hundred thousand in small man hand-able billets.87 AD. ƒ Pig iron was commonly imported into Roman Britain from iron producing areas Replica of the hand made nails found on board the 'Mary Rose‘ - of the empire. many in a remarkable state of An original 7" (180mm) long Roman nail found in Scotland preservation. Nails ƒ In 1959 during excavation of the legionary fortress at Inchtuthil near Dunkeld.notably lower Tudor flag ship of Henry VIII built in 1509 Germany.

ƒ They ‘acquired’ technology from around the world. ƒ Viking society was based on agriculture and trade with other peoples. Viking Swords and Utensils ƒ Viking Age is the term denoting the years from about 700 to 1066 in European history. ƒ Metal crafts in Scandinavia were of a very high standard as regards the execution and craft skills. 35 .

– Intentional reduction of iron oxide ore using charcoal (from wood) was widespread in Egypt by 1500 B.C. – Iron production well established by 1000 B. 36 . C. – Widely available sources of charcoal (from wood) and iron ore caused iron production to spread widely (in China) by 500 B.C.C. History of Metals ƒ Iron Smelting – Iron production began in Anatolia in 2000 B. – Egyptians were tempering iron by 900 B.C.

History of Metals ƒ Iron Smelting – Requires higher temperatures than for lead. – Involves oxide reduction using carbon in the form of charcoal or coke to reduce iron oxide to iron. o Carbon serves two purposes • Reduction agent • Fuel o Early furnaces used either natural draft air or forced air. 37 . forming carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.

38 . – Incorporated various air blowing techniques to make a “hot” fire. History of Metals ƒ Iron smelting (hearth processes) – Early iron process were variations of “closed-pit” or “hearth” furnaces: – Used charcoal embedded in iron ore to reduce ore to iron. o Natural draft and forced draft.

C. for Egyptian copper smelting in Timna in the Negev Desert 39 . Revolutionary Furnace -1200 B.

.Making Charcoal – recent technology method Air flow in and out of the mud encased pile was controlled and limited for a slow oxygen starved burn to refine the wood into high 40 carbon charcoal.

– If carbon absorbed. ductile. spongy. – Quenching to form a hard iron discovered early. the iron was somewhat harder than low carbon wrought iron. o Soft. low carbon. 41 . malleable. History of Metals ƒ Iron Smelting (hearth processes) – Early product of smelting was “wrought” iron.

phosphorous. it would absorb carbon o Good or bad? 42 . manganese. o High in carbon. – If sponge iron kept in contact with the charcoal. silicon. – Product was “sponge” iron. – Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide formed. History of Metals ƒ Iron smelting (hearth processes) – In all furnaces iron oxide was reduced to iron.

50% • Sulfur = 0.1.25% • Silicon = 1.5% . sulfur and phosphorus.90% .2. History of Metals ƒ Iron Smelting – Modern basic reduced iron is termed “pig” iron.04% .25% • Manganese = 0. • Carbon = .04% • Iron = Balance 43 . o Contains significant quantities of carbon.

wrought iron – Wrought iron is ductile – Pig iron is brittle o What element causes the difference? 44 . History of Metals ƒ Pig iron vs.

45 .C.Laminating Iron without melting it – 1000 B.

Laminating Iron without melting it – 1000 B.C. 46 .

Afgan Silversmith using historic technology today 47 .

Iranian Coppersmith using historic technology today 48 .

Afgan Iron Making using historic technology today for plowshares 49 .

Goldworking in ancient America 2000 years before Columbus 50 .

Peru was a center of metal working for Copper and Gold using hammered sheets before the Aztecs 51 .

Medieval Smithing in Europe 52 .

D. woodcuts from "De Re Metallicus" by Agricola 53 . German Smithing shown in 1500 A.

Smithing in 1500's, from a Flemish woodcut


From "the Boy's Book
of Trades", 1888


Colonial Firearms and Artillery


and Equipment 57 . Barn. Colonial Kitchen Tools and all Hardware for the Home.

Colonial Smithing at Sturbridge Village 58 .

Colonial Smithing at Williamsburg 59 .

Colonial Smelting Furnace West Virginia Small. workable iron veins were discovered in many areas of West Virginia. West Virginia 60 . and small furnaces were set up at these spots for smelting the ore and manufacturing bar iron for the pioneer blacksmiths. Start of Operation: 1836 Blowout: 1847 Daily Tonnage: 4 tons Built By: Leonard Lamb for Tassey & Bissel Stack: ? Blast: Cold Type: Charcoal Located in Cooper's Rock State Forest just east of Morgantown.

Oliver H.000 degrees with the aid of water. Most of the state's iron furnaces were found in the northeastern counties. Blast Furnace Operation ƒ From 1760 to the 1880s. where veins containing iron nodules are relatively common. ƒ West Virginia's handful of furnace operators decided the effort of building ƒ West Virginia iron was used to make everything furnaces and producing the from stoves to nails and any number of tools. charcoal and ore needed to cooking utensils and household items that could make iron was a better be produced by pioneer blacksmiths. bargain than paying the high cost of freighting bar iron or pig iron from existing ƒ West Virginia furnaces were also credited with furnaces east of the Blue producing the cannonballs used by Commodore Ridge. . charcoal fires heated to temperatures of up to 3.or steam-powered fans converted locally mined ore into iron in at least 25 locations. Perry to defeat a squadron of six British vessels in the Battle of Lake Erie during 61 the War of 1812.

At day's end the furnaces were no longer operational. 1865. Wilson's raid on Alabama war industry sites. in turn. Smoke rose from the charred remains of the ironworks and cabins that housed 500 workers. it all ended in fire and destruction. Roupes Creek and a mighty steam engine powered the blowing machines to heat the fires that melted ore to be formed into "pigs" of iron which. tannery. Three companies of the Eighth Iowa Cavalry swept through the area as a part of Union General James H. At the height of production Tannehill could turn out 22 tons of iron a day. gristmill. The iron was cast into ordnance. pots and ovens for the Southern army. skillets. On March 31. and the foundry. and tax-in-kind warehouse were in ruins. Tannehill Ironworks near Birmingham before Civil War Trees on the hillsides were felled to be made into charcoal that fed the huge blast furnaces. 62 . formed the tools of war for the Confederacy.

Tannehill Museum 63 .

Steel Making begins in Birmingham 1897 64 .

Sloss Furnaces fueled by Coal in Birmingham. Alabama 65 .

Sloss Furnaces once fueled by Coal are silent today 66 .

Vulcan on Red Mountain in Birmingham 67 .

habairon.Blacksmithing Survives and Thrives 68 .