Huntsman, Benjamin

SUBJECT AREA: Metallurgy
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b. 1704 Barton-on-Humber, Lincolnshire, England
d. 21 June 1776 Sheffield, England
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English inventor of crucible steelmaking.
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Of Dutch descent, Hunstman was apprenticed to a clockmaker at Epworth, Lincolnshire. In 1725 he set up in Doncaster as a maker of clocks, locks and roasting jacks. He made improvements in his tools but found himself hampered by the poor quality of the steel available, then made by the cementation process, which yielded a steel with a non-uniform carbon content. Around 1740, Huntsman moved to Handsworth, now part of Sheffield, and began experimenting by heating varying compositions of fuel and flux with crude steel in a crucible, to obtain a steel of uniform composition. During the years 1745 to 1750 he attained his object, but not without many unsuccessful "heats", as excavations of the site of his works now reveal. Although his steel was far better than that previously available, however, the conservative cutlers of Sheffield rejected it, claiming it was too hard to work; therefore Huntsman exported his product to France, where the cutlers promptly worked it into high-quality knives and razors that were exported to England. The Sheffield cutlers' attempts to prevent Huntsman from exporting his steel proved unsuccessful. Huntsman did not patent his process, preferring to retain his advantage by shrouding his work in secrecy, carrying out his melting at night to escape observation, but a rival cutler, Samuel Walker, gained admittance to Huntsman's works disguised as a tramp seeking food. As a result, Walker was able to make crucible steel at a handsome profit. Huntsman fought back and earned success through the sheer quality of his steel, and had to move to.a larger site at Attercliffe in 1770. Crucible steelmaking remained important through the nineteenth century although, as it was a small-scale process, its application was restricted to engineers' cutting tools and the cutting edges of certain tools.
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Further Reading
E.W.Hulme, 1945, "The pedigree and career of Benjamin Huntsman, inventor in Europe of crucible steel", Transactions of the Newcomen Society 24:37–48.
W.K.V.Gale, 1969, Iron and Steel, London: Longman.
LRD

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

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • benjamin — /ben jeuh meuhn/, n. benzoin1 (def. 2). [1570 80; alter. (by assoc. with the proper name) of benjoin, early form of BENZOIN1] * * * (as used in expressions) Banneker Benjamin Benjamin Judah Philip Benjamin Walter Benjamin Kubelsky Bloch Marc… …   Universalium

  • Benjamin — /ben jeuh meuhn/, n. 1. the youngest son of Jacob and Rachel, and the brother of Joseph. Gen. 35:18. 2. one of the 12 tribes of ancient Israel traditionally descended from him. 3. Asher, 1773 1845, U.S. architect and writer. 4. Judah Philip, 1811 …   Universalium

  • Benjamin — (De Benjamín, hijo menor de Jacob.) ► sustantivo Hijo menor de una familia. * * * benjamín, a (de «Benjamín», nombre del hijo menor y más querido de Jacob) 1 n. Se aplica al hijo menor de una familia, cuando se quiere significar que es el más… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • Benjamin Huntsman — (4 June 1704 – 20 June 1776) was an English inventor and manufacturer of crucible steel. He was born the third son of a Quaker farmer in Epworth, Lincolnshire. His parents were Germans.He started business as a clock, lock and tool maker at… …   Wikipedia

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  • Huntsman — Para el relojero británico, véase Benjamin Huntsman. Huntsman País de origen Reino Unido Leche de Vaca …   Wikipedia Español

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