Scientists, Science and Society Seminar
Thursday 30th October 6.45 for 7.00pm
Robert Recorde Room, Faraday Building
Ribbon of Fire: how US strip mill technology came to Wales
Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester
The American continuous wide strip mill halved the cost of steel sheets after 1926. This large scale technology was rapidly adopted in the USA to supply a growing market for autobodies, canstock and consumer goods.
After much controversy, Welsh steelmakers built these new mills in the 1930’s under pressure from customers and American technical partners. Once Richard Thomas had bought their Ebbw Vale mill in 1936, Summers at Shotton were tipped into ordering their wide hot strip mill from a rival American supplier.
The lecture is based on US and European archive sources considers the personalities, the technical choices, the construction and the impact of these radical schemes on Wales. Marshall Aid funded a third strip mill at Port Talbot after the war, but a fourth private sector mill at Cardiff was abandoned once Llanwern got under way. The paper ends with a reminder of the fiftieth anniversary of direct computer control of the Llanwern wide hot strip mill in 1964.
Speaker: Jonathan Aylen is a joint editor and author of Ribbon of Fire: How Europe adopted and developed US strip mill technology (1920-2000) published by Pendragon in Bologna in 2012. He has done extensive research on the origins of the wide hot strip mill in the USA. Jonathan is Chair of the North-West Branch of the Newcomen Society based in Manchester.
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