Metalworking: Transforming Our World

Tools, for centuries, have made humans very unique on planet Earth. No organisms that we know of have been able to match the skill level humans have achieved regarding tool building and other creations. Metals have been used for centuries for that purpose. The field of studying the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements is called metallurgy. Once people got a grasp of what they were working with, incredible devices were made with increasingly better quality over time. This art of handling metal to acquire things from it is called metalworking.

Great concepts of metalworking develop as demands for metals increase. New ways of working with metals are always being explored as new technologies develop. It would appear that the ideas involved are endless. It is easy to see how that could happen since we make tools to make tools to make tools.

Metalworking generally involves three objectives; forming, cutting and joining. The typical metals used for these tasks are iron, aluminum, copper, magnesium, zinc, titanium, nickel, gold, lead, silver and tin; just to name a few. Through history metalworking became more and more important to civilizations as people began to realize the useful benefits metals create. As years went by and countries continued to develop, certain metals were viewed as more “precious” than others. Having the ability to acquire precious metals can greatly influence the economy of any country.

With heat and pressure, people have been able to shape metals in the process called forming. Certain molds are used to which hot molten metal is poured, then allowed to cool in order to maintain a particular shape. Forming does not involve the addition or removal of any material.

Many times once the metal has been formed, the shape is then refined. This will help it to become more of a precise implement. In order to refine the shape, certain pieces are removed in the process called cutting.

Cutting is a broad term since there are so many different methods. Metals are cut manually or mechanically and sometimes with an electric discharge or powerful streams of water. Generally speaking metals are; drilled, bored, parted, threaded, ground, turned, filled and machined.

Once cut metals are sometimes joined with other metals. The process of joining metals is viewed by many as a valuable art form. Much like cutting, joining can be accomplished by several different means. Welding is a joining method involving melting the metals and adding filler material in to the area that is being welded. It can be accomplished with lasers, flames, friction, electric arcs and beams. Other methods of joining are riveting, soldering and brazing. Sometimes processes are repeated to further improve the final product.

Amazing technologies continue to astound the mind. New and exciting advancements in the fields of science and industry have thrust us in to an age only imagined decades ago. Powerful machines have been created that enable us to test the limits of our own creation. These amazing machines are pieced together through the help of engineers and other great scientists that have toiled countless hours to turn imagination in to reality.