Brinell, Johann August

SUBJECT AREA: Metallurgy
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b. 1849 Småland, Sweden
d. 17 November 1925 Stockholm, Sweden
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Swedish metallurgist, inventor of the well-known method of hardness measurement which uses a steel-ball indenter.
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Brinell graduated as an engineer from Boräs Technical School, and his interest in metallurgy began to develop in 1875 when he became an engineer at the ironworks of Lesjöfors and came under the influence of Gustaf Ekman. In 1882 he was appointed Chief Engineer at the Fagersta Ironworks, where he became one of Sweden's leading experts in the manufacture and heat treatment of tool steels.
His reputation in this field was established in 1885 when he published a paper on the structural changes which occurred in steels when they were heated and cooled, and he was among the first to recognize and define the critical points of steel and their importance in heat treatment. Some of these preliminary findings were first exhibited at Stockholm in 1897. His exhibit at the World Exhibition at Paris in 1900 was far more detailed and there he displayed for the first time his method of hardness determination using a steel-ball indenter. For these contributions he was awarded the French Grand Prix and also the Polhem Prize of the Swedish Technical Society.
He was later concerned with evaluating and developing the iron-ore deposits of north Sweden and was one of the pioneers of the electric blast-furnace. In 1903 he became Chief Engineer of the Jernkontoret and remained there until 1914. In this capacity and as Editor of the Jernkontorets Annaler he made significant contributions to Swedish metallurgy. His pioneer work on abrasion resistance, undertaken long before the term tribology had been invented, gained him the Rinman Medal, awarded by the Jernkontoret in 1920.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Member of the Swedish Academy of Science 1902. Dr Honoris Causa, University of Upsala 1907. French Grand Prix, Paris World Exhibition 1900; Swedish Technical Society Polhem Prize 1900; Iron and Steel Institute Bessemer Medal 1907; Jernkontorets Rinman Medal 1920.
Further Reading
Axel Wahlberg, 1901, Journal of the Iron and Steel Institute 59:243 (the first English-language description of the Brinell Hardness Test).
Machinery's Encyclopedia, 1917, Vol. III, New York: Industrial Press, pp. 527–40 (a very readable account of the Brinell test in relation to the other hardness tests available at the beginning of the twentieth century).
Hardness Test Research Committee, 1916, Bibliography on hardness testing, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
ASD

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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