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Heat Treaters


When people in the Middle East learned to make bronze around 3800 B.C., they became some of the world's first heat treaters. By blending copper and tin together and heating the mix, they found that the metal was harder and stronger than copper alone and could be hammered to a sharper edge. By 1500 B.C., iron was widely used near the Black Sea. Iron's alloy, steel, was in use in India by 1000 B.C.

Since about 800 A.D., Japanese artisans have been perfecting the heat treating of metals in the art of sword making. By heating and hammering steel into blades with as many as 30,000 layers of metal, they have created sword blades of amazing flexibility and strength.

Today's heat treaters use computerized ovens and sophisticated timing and temperature data to heat-treat metals in many different ways for various purposes. The image of the muscle-bound metalsmith thrusting tongs into a fiery furnace is now only a memory, but heat treaters continue to use their specialized knowledge of metal properties and heating and cooling processes to do important work in the metal manufacturing industry.