Down through history, industries have witnessed various inventions, changing the very pattern of human existence. It is the creation of a new device, process or product. It is the creation of something that never existed before. Topyaps is keying out the ten most significant inventions in the industrial technology.
The first drilling towers were found in China. These were designed to take out salt from underground brine which came up under the natural pressure of water. As the drilling progressed, watertight joints were driven into the well in order to stop its caving in and also to avoid the entry of unwanted water. These joints were made of very large bamboos. While drilling, if a pocket of natural gas was struck, it was collected. At times, the clearing of the well was carried out. This was done by suction through a leather sheath by a two-cylinder pump.
Though stainless steel is not resistant to oxidation, it is resistant to alkalis and ordinary acids. It was produced in 1913 by the Englishman Henry Brearley. He used an alloy of steel and chrome. The firm Krupp made another steel which was even more resistant. It was an alloy of 18% chrome and 8% nickel. Its resistance to corrosion depended on the content of chrome. The martensitic steel contains 12-18% chrome and 0.12-1% carbon; austenitic steels are made according to the Krupp alloy formula. This steel was based on gamma-iron and carbon.
The Chinese were the first to understand that the 1500m long thread which was made from the bombyx cocoon on the mulberry worm could be woven. Loui-tse, wife of the mythical Asian emperor Houang-ti is given credit for this. The inhabitants of the Greek island of Kos learnt how to weave silk but the Romans had no knowledge of silk. Some Nestorian monks brought silkworm eggs back to the Mediterranean. During the second half of the 6th century, cocooneries were founded in Athens. The king of Sicily, Roger of Normandy, founded a silk industry at Palermo in the 12th century. Thus began the silk industry in the West.
The Romans were supposed to be expert civil engineers and great specialists in water conveyance. They were the first to design pipes in the 3rd century BC. The Romans made these pipes by a rolling band of metal around a cylindrical or triangular mould and finally soldering the sections together. For soldering, a lead-tin alloy was used. Vitruvius suggested certain precautions in the use of these pipes, such as avoiding acute angles while making pipes so as to prevent them from bursting due to pressure. He also suggested strengthening the bends with red sandstone.
Transparent glass fibres are called optical fibres. They contain a core which has a higher refractive index than the cladding. In successive reflections, light rays travel through these fibres. In 1995, the Indian Narinder S. Kapany used glass fibres encased in a cladding. the light was directed along a non-rectilinear path. This principle was used in the manufacture of endoscopes which are used in medical exploration. These optical fibres were also used for long distance communication. During transmission, the modulator transforms the electric signals into light signals, which on reception are transformed into electrical signals by photodiodes. The communication thus received through signals can be modulated light impulses or analogue wave forms.
In 1755, the American Charles T. Wiesenthal patented a double pointed needle in the form of a shuttle. It had an eye in the centre. Seamstresses and embroiders would not have to turn the needle around for every stitch on both sides of the cloth if they used this needle. Between 1832 and 1834 the American Walter Hunt made a more advanced sewing machine. The needle was fixed to an oscillating arm and formed a loop of thread on the underside of the material through which a swinging shuttle passed a second thread. In 1857, James E.O. Gibbs made a simple machine which performed the single chain stitch and any housewife could sew clothes with it. thus it became a well known appliance at home and in the clothing industry.
The essential quality of plastics is their insulating power. A researcher at the Hideki Shirakawa laboratory at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, while attempting to make a polymer, polyacetylene, obtained a completely different substance which had a metallic look and possessed electrical conductivity. The same researcher, along with the Americans, Alan G. McDiarmid and Alan J. Heeger, had an idea of doping this new substance with iodine. The product they obtained was a kind of polyacetylene which resembled gold leaf and was a better conductor. Thus, conductive plastics came to be known. These consists of atoms of carbon and hydrogen linked together to form monomers, which in turn are shaped into polymers.
The oldest blades were discovered in Africa in 1969. Blades were given shape from flint and were used for cutting, chopping, slicing etc. They were used for making side arms, axes, adzes billhooks and finally scissors.
It was assumed that the first bridges were constructed during the stone age by the inhabitants of lake side settlements. They drove piles into the mud, stabilized by ropes and topped with gangways. The cantilever bridge appeared at an uncertain date, the oldest specimens of which were found in India. In 1779, the Englishman Abraham Darby and John Wilkinson made the first ever metal bridge having a span of 33 m. When iron and steel were made industrially, the principle of cantilever could be used again.
In summer, during the 3rd millennium BC, unfired bricks were hardened in the sun and used for constructing thick walls. The mortar was clay or bitumen. This type of brick resisted rain but crazed under the sun’s rays. The bricks were shaped in wooden moulds. The Greeks invented fired bricks in the 4th century BC. In summer, wood and stone were not available in plenty, so bricks were widely used as building material. Since stone was available in Egypt and America, the brick was only a secondary material. With the increase in the cost of stone, fired bricks were used more widely. They were used in the construction of the cathedrals at Lubeck and Ratzburg in the Middle Ages.