A Brief and Remarkable History of Stainless Steel

We may take it for granted in our modern world, but stainless steel is a very recent invention in human history. Before its discovery, rust and corrosion were nasty concerns for metals used in machinery, cookware, firearms, architecture, and plumbing — all of which posed hazards to human health and safety if the metals used lost integrity to rust or seeped into food and water through acidic corrosion. So here’s a short and humble history that led to the versatile and essential stainless steel wire that we use today.

Early 19th Century – In 1823, French metallurgist Pierre Berthier observed the properties of iron-chromium alloys and their resistance to corrosion. He had hoped the property could be used in dishware and cutlery, but unfortunately, all attempts at producing a steel alloy that wasn’t too brittle to use failed.

Late 19th Century – In the late 1800s, various chemists and metallurgists across Europe and North America developed multiple forms of what we would now consider to be stainless steel. Stainless steel developers in England, France, Germany, and the United States all rushed and competed to patent each particular alloy they developed for use in firearms, ship hulls, and architecture.

Early 20th Century – American inventor and eventual millionaire Elwood Haynes patented Stainless Steel in the United States in 1915. He eventually sold the patent to the American Stainless Steel Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in exchange for stock and a position on the company’s board of directors. At the time, Pittsburgh was already considered the steel capital of the world, and stainless steel was briefly called Allegheny metal before eventually being called sustainable steel, and then stainless steel

Late 20th Century – As technology and large scale manufacturing improved significantly in the 1950s, production of stainless steel skyrocketed. The material became an indispensable resource for nearly every industry, from use in architecture, including skyscrapers and bridges to being used in most medical equipment and surgical tools, to production of culinary ware, to use in agriculture and recycling as baling wire. There were practically no industries in the world that didn’t make use of stainless steel.

Wickwire Warehouse Inc. has a 70-year history in providing stainless steel wires to companies and industries in Ohio, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania — the historical heartland of American made steel. Whether your company needs wire for baling, cookware, medical equipment, or practically any other use, you can contact us!