A review of technological development over the past couple of centuries seems to show that we humans want but one thing: to go faster. Ironically, we want this increased speed so that we can have more time to be ourselves, to take things slowly and relax. Most of us want the same things to go faster too. We get impatient if a website takes more than a couple of seconds to load and two minutes at a red traffic light can seem like months. Well, while you’re waiting, why not find out all about a steel Speedy Gonzales? Here’s all you need to know…
High Speed Steel
Before any mention of jumping on bandwagons is made, let’s get it clear that steel set the stage for all things high-speed. Back when travelling at even 10 mph would have been seen as ludicrously dangerous and quite possibly the result of witchcraft, steel was already in the fast lane.
You’ll need to travel pretty fast yourself if you want to catch the birth of HSS; round about the speed of light should do it. For HSS has a history reaching back the13th century BC and its influence, scope and integration with our lives has been growing ever since, a process that continues unabated today
It was in China that steel got its boost and it must be conceded that it was one of those happy fluke accidents that seem to permeate scientific discovery. Iron ores from different areas each differed slightly in content and some were found to be far more effective at creating hardened steel when finished.
Back to light speed again and fast forward to 1868; Robert Mushet alloys carbon, tungsten and manganese to create Mushet steel, the direct link to today’s HSS. The formula was tweaked and chromium took the place of manganese more and more until, in 1919, HSS was formally classified and received AISI designation. A hop, skip and jump back into the present and HSS has found natural homes throughout industry, with one truly excellent usage being for drill bits and cutting tools