The History Of Wrought Iron
Wrought iron is a malleable metallic alloy, composed of iron and a fibrous material known as slag, that was heavily used before the modern manufacturing of steel. Throughout the history of wrought iron, the words, "wrought iron" were a term that means worked iron. This type of iron was more workable and versatile than cast iron or pig iron, because of its lower carbon and slag content. Consequently, wrought iron was often referred to as commercially pure iron, but this is a designation that no longer survives in modern industry, a status lost since the manufacturing of iron that is far more pure. Wrought iron remained as one of the most widely used forms of iron until issues with the brittleness of steel were later overcome. Before that time, steel was sometimes used, but primarily in the composition of edged weapons, such as swords, knives, and axes. Today, people often think of guard rails, garden furnature, and even iron gates as being composed of wrought iron, because of the traditional use of wrought iron in the manufacturing of these products. However, when manufacturing modern versions of these items, it has become the case that they are actually composed of mild steel instead.
Early Methods Of Producing Wrought Iron
Leading up to the end of the 18th century, charcoal was employed in the smelting of iron ore to produce wrought iron in the bloomery process. It was also possible to render wrought iron from pig iron by way of a finery forge. Alternatively, one could accomplish a similar outcome using a Lancashire hearth. The first large scale method for the production of wrought iron came as a result of the puddling process in a reverberatory furnace
The Height And Fall Of Wrought Iron's Usefulness
During the 1860's, at a major climax in the history of wrought iron, demand for wrought iron had increased significantly. Nations were using wrought iron heavily in the construction of iron clad vessels that served as war ships for military purposes. Improvements in land based transportation gave way to the extensive use of the rail ways, which produced an even greater need for wrought iron production for industrial use. In the years that eventually followed, mild steel manufacturing improvements helped to cause the decline of wrought iron in commercial manufacturing and industry, making way for more durable steel products to reach the market.