A high-strength iron alloy containing not more than 2% carbon. Steel may also contain small amounts of phosphorus, sulfur, manganese, silicon, aluminum, titanium, copper, molybdenum, and nickel. Small amounts of steel were made into swords and cutting implements in antiquity in Japan and India. From 1855-1875, Bessemer, Kelly, Thomas, Gilchrist, Mushet and others developed manufacturing procedures to quickly and consistently produce good quality steel from pig iron. Steel, with its strength, resilience, hardness and formability was being produced in quantities of 25 million tons a year by the end of the 19th century. It was primarily used for construction of ships, bridges, building and skyscrapers. Steel was also used for smaller items, such as knives, weapons, decoration and architectural components (grilles, doors, windows, roofing, gutters, brackets, wire cloth, cables and hardware).
Synonyms and Related Terms
acier (Fr.); Stahl (Deut.); acero (Esp.); staal (Ned.); aço (Port.)
Hazards and Safety
Inhalation of dust or metal fumes is dangerous.
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