Bronze/Cast Iron

Techniques for making metal alloys date back over 2000 years. Once the Chinese people discovered that they could add lead and tin to copper to create a stronger, more workable metal, the Bronze Age began. Bronze became increasingly popular because the tools and weapons made out of it were far more durable.  Bronze also melted faster, making it easier to pour into casts and moulds.

The Chinese produced cast iron as early as the 6th century BC, and it was produced sporadically in Europe by the 14th century. It was introduced into England about 1500, the first ironworks in America was established on the James River, Virginia, in 1619. During the 18th and 19th centuries, cast iron was a cheaper engineering material than wrought iron because it did not require intensive refining and working with hammers, but it was more brittle and inferior in strength. Nevertheless, its load-bearing strength made it the first important structural metal, and it was used in some of the earliest skyscrapers. In the 20th century, steel, replaced cast iron in construction, but cast iron continues to have many industrial applications.



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