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A Quick History of Metallurgy

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Metallurgy is one of the most common practices used in various industries today, even if the term itself may not be one we are all readily familiar with.  Indeed, this is the process involved with the manufacture of many products used all over the world today.

What is Metallurgy?

Simply, metallurgy is a matrix of materials sciences and engineering which involves the study of the collective physical and chemical behaviors of metallic elements and their respective inter-metallic compounds and mixtures.  These mixtures are more commonly known as alloys and are used to make steel.

Also, metallurgy can also refer to the technology of many metals. For example, metallurgy can refer to the engineering of metal components intended for use in consumer products and manufacturers.

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Breaking down Metallurgy

Metallurgy actually breaks down into two subdivisions:

  • Ferrous metallurgy
  • Non-ferrous metallurgy

Also known as black metallurgy, ferrous metallurgy involves all iron-based (as in the scientific element “ferrous,” which carries the elemental notation Fe) processes and alloys. Ferrous metallurgy accounts for approximately 95 percent of all metal production in the world.

Also known as colored metallurgy, non-ferrous metallurgy involves the processing of and alloys of all metals besides iron.

Early Metallurgy

We have evidence of the earliest recorded metallic processing found in Spanish caves dating back to the late Paleolithic period (c 40,000 BC).  It appears that humans of this era might have worked with “free” or “native” natural gold.  History also shows that native forms of copper, silver, tin, and even meteoric iron allowed for, albeit limited, metalworking in such early cultures.  As a matter of fact, Egyptians in 3000 BC fashioned highly-prized “daggers from heaven” out of meteoric iron.

We can find historical evidence of ferrous metallurgy throughout history.  This includes both ancient worlds and medieval kingdoms as well as empires in the Middle East and the Near East.  It includes ancient Iran, ancient Egypt, and ancient Nubia as well as Anatolia (what we know today as Turkey), Carthage, and Ancient Nok; the Greeks and Romans, of course, and much of ancient Europe, even ancient and medieval Asia.

Extractive Metallurgy

Extractive metallurgy is the practice of removing valuable metallic materials from a natural ore and then refining the extracted raw materials into an even purer form and DCM works with many companies who do this type of job.  The first evidence of these practices seem to date back to sometime between the 5th and 6th millennia BC, at archaeological sites in Yarmovac, Majdanpek, and Plocnik, in what is now present day Serbia.