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Developments in Steel Making, 1893
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Development in Steel Making

The London Times gives a long account of a number of experiments lately made with a new description of steel, the success of which appears to point to a revolution in the steel trade. An important advance in the manufacture of what is technically known as tool steel, it says, has recently been developed into practical shape in England. It is a new process, the invention of Mr. Francis G. Bates, of Philadelphia, which has been under trial in this country for the past twelve months on a working scale. It consists in converting a low-grade steel by a remarkable economical process into a high-class steel, suitable for making turning tools for iron and steel, punches, chisels and similar articles.

The system is carried out by placing bars of Bessemer or other steel, containing a low percentage of carbon, in a specially designed furnace and subjecting them to a high temperature. The steel to be converted is embedded in a carbonaceous compound of special character, and placed in a chamber in a furnace, which has three fire grates, with flues and passages so constructed that a surprising economy of fuel is secured by reason of the perfect character of the combustion. So complete is the combustion that there is no escape of any visible products in the form of smoke after the furnace has been started, and although a very high temperature is maintained, equal to melting cast iron, the temperature of the escaping gases is remarkably low, so thoroughly is every atom of heat utilized.

An important advance in the manufacture of what is technically known as tool steel, it says, has recently been developed into practical shape in England.

Many tons of steel have been so converted and a number of tools have been made from it. In all cases the tools thus made have turned out exceedingly well, some of them doing work comparable with Mushet steel, which is the most costly steel made. Various brands of low-grade steel, including Bessemer, Glengarnock, basic, Brown, Bayley and Brymbo steel, costing on the average £7 per ton, have been tried. From these bars, when converted, turning tools, punches and chisels were made and successfully tested in actual work. The process is, in fact, a commercial success, and constitutes a new departure in the manufacture of high-class steel from steel of a low grade.

Many well-known users of steel have, after due trial, certified to its value, and have expressed their readiness to adopt it. Should the apparently reasonable expectations entertained, respecting this steel be realized, a revolution in the steel trade should practically result. Moreover, by the Bates system, not only can steel be successfully treated, but wrought and cast iron can be converted. Its application, in fact, appears to be very far reaching and capable of meeting the requirements of war as well as those of peace.

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About this article

This article is a reprint of an existing article from Engineer and Inventor, April 1893. It is the intent of this website to present this article in human and machine readable form. Format and editing changes have been made. This article is provided for the purpose of enjoyment only. Statements in this article were relevant to the published period and may not be applicable in current times.