A Brief History of Metal Spinning

Where it all began… Did you know that there are pictorial depictions of metal spinning dating back to the 4th Century? According to historians there are illustrations in the tomb of Egyptian Pharaoh Petosiris that show men operating a lathe. Literary resources from the time also explain that hand bows were used to spin metal, stone and wood. Whilst very few artifacts remain from this time to prove that these accounts are true there are literary resources from both China and Indian which support those found in Egypt making the facts incontrovertible. The Middle Ages….. Metal spinning moved on leaps and bounds during the Middle Ages thanks to developments in technology. By replacing the bow with a pedal, workers could operate the pedal with their feet and use their hands to control the speed of rotation. The lathe itself also became smaller and more practical. By pushing down on the pedal a flywheel would rotate, giving you continuous action. Other societies at this time took longer to develop continuous action lathes. Whilst they still used ones driven by the pedal they had to use poles to reset the treadle. Known as polelathes, these tools could be seen right up to the 20th century as they were easy to produce and functional to a point. Iron Lathes…. After some time iron lathes were invented for use on denser materials. Whilst they worked in a similar way to wooden and copper lathes, they were far more precise. The Industrial Revolution… The dawn of the motor revolutionized metal spinning. By creating motorized lathes metal could be spun at a much faster rate significantly greater volumes of metal spun products could be produced in much shorter time frames. These machines still needed a lot of human supervision but the industry was well on its way to what it is now. Today… CNC machining is now the way most metal spinning production is managed. Thanks to the development in technology, computers can now be programmed to handle large runs without supervision making the process faster and more accurate. The Future…. In 50, 100, 1000 years who know what the metal spinning industry will look like. As long as someone documents the progression of the industry, as they have done since Egyptian times, hopefully when our great, great great grandchildren are learning about the past we’ll be able to see just how far things have come.

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