Forges, Furnaces and Facts

We live in a complex and increasingly industrial world. For most of human history, we were held back by the limitations of what we had on hand. We had no induction hardening, no metal melting furnace to help us get where we needed to go. There was no induction forging furnace that would let us build ships or skyscrapers. But over time and with the help of the industrial revolution, that changed. We gained the ability to make harder and firmer metals that would bend when we needed them to, break when we needed them to. It was just a matter of using the right materials to forge the right product. With enough ingenuity and industrialization, we had enough spare parts to build a society with a surplus of metal and metal machinery. We often forget just how long we went without all of these powers, historically speaking, and how recent the invention of them really is. How did we get from stone tools to the induction forging furnace? How did we get from bronze to steel, with an incredible melting temperature of some 1400 degrees, able to be used in car manufacturing and building manufacturing that can be imported all around the world? The answer might surprise you.
The beginning of metal working
Metal working goes back a long time, a much longer time than some people think. Ancient people were heating and sculpting bronze for thousands of years before harder metals came along to replace the standard favorite. The Greeks used bronze in everything, even creating bronze batteries that could used for several purposes. They also used bronze in their sculpture and architecture, building elaborate statues to their gods that still last to this day. Bronze was a fairly malleable metal and easy to find in nature. It wasn’t hard to mine or shape into the specific tools these ancient peoples wanted so it made easy for them to build mass quantities of a specific item with it. The Romans continued in this tradition, to an extent, as did ancient peoples in the Americas and China. It was a worldwide effort to build the most intricate and elaborate contraptions with bronze and it didn’t end for many centuries.
Getting stronger
It’s a common fallacy that all of the world fell to barbarism in the middle ages when, really, it was mostly western Europe and nowhere else. Elsewhere in the world, like Asia and the Americas, they were working on new methods of smelting and invention that would make metalworking far easier than it had been before. True they did not yet have the induction forging furnace or fancier tools but they made do with what they had and perfected the work of iron and tin in this age, along with other metals. By mixing alloys together, many different early research groups were able to find potentially useful metals that had hitherto been unknown to society at large. This increased the manufacturing and travel outputs of many countries at a rate that was unknown at the time although it might still seem slow by modern standards. Improvements to carriages, swords, forges, furnaces and buildings in the middle ages brought about an improvement to many people’s lives that they could tangibly feel and express. This spread of knowledge eventually led to the Renaissance and, following shortly, the modern world.
The Modern World
Nowadays we have immensely strong alloys that can take humans into space and carry cargo across huge oceans. This was mostly thanks to the invention of galvanized steel, and steel in general, which was much much stronger than all of the other metals that had come before it. Steel rusts less quickly, especially stainless steel, and, coupled with the copious use of shielded aluminum, it has allowed for mass transit and storage of many different goods. What comes next, after already complicated inventions like the induction forging furnace? That’s a difficult question. There really is no way to know. By mixing and matching the right types of metals, there’s no way to know what sort of future human forging might have to offer. We’ll just have to wait and find out when the future comes.

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