8 discoveries that changed manufacturing (and modern society too)

Have you ever thought about the things in your life you think you can’t do without? Most people will be quick to list handy inventions like their mobile phone, or their car, or their favourite video streaming service. These are all great, but what we’re talking about here are the components that form the essential building blocks of everything that’s come since. Today we’re celebrating the best discoveries, whether material or process, to come out of the world of manufacturing that we really cannot live in this modern world without today.


Glass buildings

In the Stone Age, naturally-occurring glass was treated as a high-priced luxury item and known for its usefulness as a cutting instrument. Even after the Middle Ages revealed the knowledge of glass making the material is still highly prized. Today glass is found in everything from drinking cups, building materials and eyewear.


Smelting is the process of extreme heating rock ores (along with the use of particular chemicals) to extract gas, slag and metal by-products. If it wasn’t for smelting, we wouldn’t have essential elements like silver, iron and copper which have all been used for countless products over human history.

Cast Iron

Cast iron was one of the first malleable materials that blacksmiths worked with, and it was popular since its low melting temperature made it easy to bend into different shapes. The trade-off for this ease of use was that it was easy to break when pressure was applied upon it, making it a poor choice for construction.

Float glass

A relatively recent invention from the 1950s, float glass is the method of using a bed of molten tin to float molten glass on top of. Earlier experiments with this technique were attempted in the mid-1800s but proved too costly to be beneficial. Float glass was the key to making glass windows with a uniform thickness through the entire sheet.

Carbon Fibre

Carbon fibre

This futuristic composite material mixes plastic with carbon fibres to create a strong product that is also extremely light. This, coupled with its moulding flexibility, makes it extremely useful in industries where power and weight are constant issues such as aeronautics or vehicle design.


We’re big fans of welding here at ShapeCUT, and the concept of fusing metals together at extreme temperatures to form new shapes stretches back countless thousands of years. The technology behind the process has evolved rapidly over the last hundred years though, progressing from using fire to electricity and now lasers for more accurate welding results.


Alloys are another way of saying something is made from a combination of elements, including metal. For example, steel is an alloy of iron and carbon amongst other materials. Chances are that the coins in your pocket are also alloys, just like most of the cheap materials we work with every day.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel

Another alloy, but perhaps the most popular one and certainly the one that has changed the way we eat every day. Stainless steel utensils quickly usurped the place of steel utensils which, while strong, were prone to rusting and breakage after repeated cleaning.

ShapeCUT have been in the business of laser steel cutting and other services for over 20 years. Contact ShapeCUT today to see how we can help your business stand the test of time.