Fuller's history of steel in the Reader (pp.194-200) is at the same time an account of humanity's use of the contrary principles of tension and compression.

In 1858, when production steel methods were invented, "tensile ability in structure jumped in parity with compressibility through use of steel." (Reader, p.194). This was the beginning of the end for pre-dymaxion architecture.

The following century saw steel competing with stone in the construction of skyscrapers. In the First World War metallurgy became truly industrial. Military production, as usual, provoked a burst of research and development of materials which had not hitherto been applied to problems of livingry:

"Chrome-nickel steel, for instance, which had been invented in 1854, was brought into production to make guns last longer in 1916." (ibid.)

Henry Ford impressed Fuller by concentrating in his design of the Model T on the performance of the materials whilst his competitors focussed on decorative changes:

"he began putting steel alloys into the models, and by the time he produced the last multi-millionth Model T in 1927, it had 54 different types of steel that were far less alike than rubies and diamonds." (ibid.)

Section 109.00 of Synergetics discusses the synergy of chrome-nickel steel, whose tensile strength greatly surpasses the sum of the components' individual strengths.

See also High Tensile Steel.



Paul Taylor 2001