The History of Stainless Steel

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The History of Stainless Steel-Image

The History of Stainless Steel, By Harold M. Cobb - release date June 30, 2010

  • Upcoming October release from ASM International, 2009, 255 pages (approx), 6 x 9 in. with illustrations.
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"Chemical engineers designing, operating and maintaining their ever-expanding industry during the second half of the 20th century relied heavily on stainless steels. Few, however, were familiar with or understood its history. This treatise satisfies that shortcoming in an interesting, readable manner. The 'Timeline' alone is a remarkable presentation." Richard Leonard, retired, Hercules, Inc.


  1. The Early Discoveries
  2. Discoveries on the Commercial Usefulness of Stainless Steel
  3. The Great Stainless Steel Symposium (1924)
  4. The Life of Harry Brearley
  5. The Early Books and Papers on Stainless Steel (1919-1949)
  6. The Chrysler Building
  7. Edward G. Budd, Inventor and Entrepreneur
  8. The St. Louis Arch
  9. History of Stainless Steel Melting and Refining
  10. Two New Stainless Steel Classes of Alloys Discovered
  11. Consumer, Architectural, and Transportation Applications
  12. Canada Restores a Fleet of Stainless Steel Railcars
  13. The Plummer Classification System of Trade Names
  14. The Unified Numbering System (UNS) for Metals
  15. The Naming and Numbering of Stainless Steels


Stainless Steel Timeline


Content description

STAINLESS STEEL, called "the miracle metal" and "the crowning achievement of metallurgy" by the prominent metallurgist Carl Zapffe, is a remarkable material with a fascinating history of people, places, and technology. From the early discoveries to modern-day developments, The History of Stainless Steel tells an intriguing story of inventiveness and metallurgical progress. It tells of the discoverers in three countries, their lives, and some of the many obstacles that were encountered.

The amazing story of Harry Brearley, as he rose from poverty to become a self-taught metallurgist, is told first as one of the early discoverers of stainless steel. Another story is of entrepreneur, Edward Budd, who against all odds and during the Great Depression, used stainless steel and revolutionized the way passenger trains were built, creating a beautiful, streamlined train that was much faster and one-third the weight of a regular train of the time. And in 1970, a young metallurgist discovered, in the laboratory, a process that would cut the cost of stainless steel in half and produce better steel. It then took twelve years to discover how to develop the process for large-scale production.

This book provides a fascinating glimpse into the crowning achievements of a material that we may take for granted today. In the early days, when stainless steel cost as much as fifteen times that of ordinary steel, the goal was to produce the finest, the most durable and the most beautiful product that money could buy. The book describes the discoveries of the five classes of stainless steel and the melting and refining of these alloys, which have found use in innumerable industries, in the home, in architecture and in transportation. Stories cover everything from the making of consumer goods and iconic structures such as the Chrysler building and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

The History of Stainless Steel should light the imagination of those who are curious about how technology can advance and benefit society. Architects, engineers, historians and railroad enthusiasts will enjoy this book as well. Amply illustrated with photographs, the book also includes a "Stainless Steel Timeline" that lists over 450 interesting and important facts and events on stainless steels technology and applications.

About the Author

Harold M. Cobb graduated from Yale University in 1942, receiving a B. E. Degree in Metallurgical Engineering. He has had a broad background in the stainless steel industry and has been involved in the development of many stainless steel products. He was one of the principal promoters and developers of the Unified Numbering System for Metals (UNS) which was organized jointly by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) in 1970. He served as Secretary of the U. S. Secretariat for the International Standards Committee ISO/TC17/SC12 on Carbon Steel Sheet and Strip for fifteen years. He has edited twenty-two books on steel, including works on carbon, alloy and coated steel sheet and strip, tool steels, stainless steel specifications and a Pocketbook of Standard Wrought Steels. In 1999 he became Editor of the Stainless Steels Products Manual, one of the sixteen steel products manuals that the American Iron & Steel Institute (AISI) initiated in the 1950s. In 2008, Cobb edited and substantially revised his second edition of Stainless Steels, now published by the Association for Iron & Steel Technology.