Bessemer Steel Manufacture Digital History ID 2379|
Credit: Library of Congress
Media type: engraving
Museum Number: LC-USZ6-1721
Annotation: In 1855, Sir Henry Bessemer, an English engineer patented a revolutionary new process by which steel could quickly and inexpensively be produced from iron. The Bessemer process produced large amounts of quality steel in just under half an hour, a significant improvement from the crucible technique which required higher quantities of raw materials and produced much smaller, and thereby more expensive amounts of steel.
Before 1855, the production of steel was an expensive and labor intensive endeavor, which resulted in very small production quantities and a very high cost that limited its widespread use. Because of the higher value placed on steel, wrought iron was the principle metal used in manufacturing until the Bessemer process reduced the cost of steel to meet that of wrought iron.
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