Author Archives: Rob Ellis


A Discovery That Was A Happy Accident!

By Rob Ellis | 25th April, 2017

There are many names throughout the history of metallurgy whose fame was earned through years of rigorous scientific experimentation or endless refinement of metalworking processes. Names like Brearley and Bessemer made their contributions to industry after years of hard work, but some discoveries are made through what can only be described as serendipity. One such name is Thomas Boulsover, a Sheffield cutler born in 1705. Having completed his apprenticeship, he was employed as a cutler in the town when a customer brought him a knife in need of repair. The knife was good quality but it had a highly decorative... [read more]

Gold, Gold and More Gold!

By Rob Ellis | 11th April, 2017

The world of modern metallurgy is a beautifully precise endeavour, one more recognisable as laboratories and a focus on chemical profiles rather than the blacksmith’s forge of years ago. Those blacksmiths were highly skilled in taking, shaping and purifying raw materials, they weren’t necessarily considered ‘metallurgists’ – that title was preserved for those with less practical but more valuable materials! One such name, which was famous and well respected in his day was William Humfrey, who was born around 1500. We don’t know much at all about his early life, thanks to the methods of record keeping around the time,... [read more]

There’s a Name for Processes Like That

By Rob Ellis | 28th March, 2017

While steel and metallurgy is ever moving forward as the underpin of the futuristic society; a world of glass-and-steel skyscrapers and materials created in the laboratory, it's sometimes easy to forget that where we are now is the culmination of literally thousands of years of progress. There are processes, ideas and words that have been around for a long time – so long that we may have forgotten where they came from and end up sounding a little strange. Some of these technical terms survive because they refer to a specific process and there's still a need for the individual... [read more]

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]