Author Archives: Rob Ellis

Finding a New and Better Way

By Rob Ellis | 14th March, 2017

There are cycles of innovation that occur every few years in steel; everything from the Bessemer process or the refinement of stainless steel, all the way to ‘chemical recipe’ and specialisation, steel continues to advance. It’s a curious truth, however, that sometimes the innovation doesn’t actually have anything to do with the material itself. Samuel Osborn was a genuine pioneer in the steel industry. Born in 1826 to the partner in a steel firm making pocket knives and razors, he curiously served his apprenticeship with a local company of drapers. Once his apprenticeship was served, he spent time as a... [read more]

That’s the Point – the Ballpoint!

By Rob Ellis | 28th February, 2017

Everybody loves a ‘wonder of technology’ and the current hot trend is clearly Virtual Reality; the ability to create an entire, three-dimensional world that exists only in a headset. This week, however, saw excitement over a technological advancement that is much humbler and less ambitious. The Chinese government have recently been celebrating the fact that they’re closer than ever to producing… a ballpoint pen. Now before you get too confused and ask “Haven’t we already invented those?” it’s actually a fascinating situation. Although China has become unrecognisable from the nation it was just a few short decades ago and they... [read more]

Reassembling Our Love of Everyday Engineering

By Rob Ellis | 14th February, 2017

We hope you’ll forgive us for a moment of misty-eyed nostalgia, but we’re very much enjoying an odd little series currently on BBC Four – James May’s The Reassembler. The principle is extremely simple – take ordinary everyday objects, such as a small petrol lawnmower, an electric guitar or a Hornby electric train set, start with them in what appears to be a thousand pieces and slowly and methodically put them back together. It’s no surprise that such a programme would be fascinating – it takes ingenious solutions to specific problems, such as how to take the hard work out... [read more]

Manganese Steel

By Rob Ellis | 31st January, 2017

Manganese Steel with a 11% to 14% manganese content is a work hardening steel. With its high carbon (approximately 1.2%) and high manganese contents it combines its work hardening resistance to wear characteristics with high toughness and ductility. When in service the steel can be subjected to repeated impact or abrasion, which will then work harden the steel. Due to the steels excellent work hardening characteristics it is extremely difficult to machine which can limit its range of suitable applications. Cutting and machining the steel by conventional methods is nigh on impossible, the best process for cutting is using plasma... [read more]

Lessons in History – and Investment in Steel

By Rob Ellis | 3rd January, 2017

Sometimes it’s quite easy to forget that behind what we know of the steel business, there’s an entire other industry, working hard. We may look at the amazing range of steel products that we know today and identify them by how they’re used, everything from the frames of skyscrapers to industrial machinery, cars right down to a teaspoon. These strong and sturdy products can appear almost eternal and permanent. There is, however, another level to the steel business, which is set solidly in the world of finance. Almost anything and any company can be traded on the stock market, but... [read more]