Why weren’t ships made of metal sooner?

(Image source: Pixabay)

Question from Joe Robertson

Although metal work has existed for centuries for things such as swords and armour, the sheer amount of metal required and the techniques needed to forge them into large ships simply didn’t exist until the industrial revolution.

The development of large industrial forges during this era meant the raw materials could now be turned into huge objects such as keels.

Isambard Brunel’s Great Britain, launched in 1843, was the first ship to be built entirely of wrought iron. From the 1880s shipbuilders started to use steel instead of iron, and some were fitted with steam engines

Answered by Mark Smith for Brain Dump in How It Works issue 134.

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