The average person interacts with stainless steel 30 times a day, a major conference to mark the centenary of its discovery in Sheffield heard.
The British Stainless Steel Association organised a three-day event to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Harry Brearley’s breakthrough which attracted an international audience to the city.
Business minister Michael Fallon opened with a speech at the University of Sheffield’s Edge conference centre.
He said: “We recognise the vital role that the UK stainless steel industry plays in the supply chain in the UK, supplying key industries which underpin many parts of manufacturing. A high-technology, innovative economy needs continually improving stainless steel products.
“Despite misconceptions, manufacturing is a national success story vital to our economic growth.”
Manufacturing generates more than half the UK’s export of goods and almost three quarters of business R&D, he added.
And he urged companies to apply for funds under Round Four of the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative.
He added: “I am pleased to see that 100 years later, Harry’s spirit of innovation is inspiring you here at the University of Sheffield where you are reimagining materials and manufacturing processes and making your mark across the globe.
“Most importantly you are also teaching the Brearleys of the future. If we can harness the talents of our young people and those of the generations to come, we can secure Harry’s legacy for the next 100 years.”
The event included a lecture by CEO of Outokumpu Group Mika Seitovirta and a centenary dinner at the Cutlers’ Hall.
n Two 9ft stainless steel horse heads were temporarily installed outside the conference centre to showcase a project by Sheffield-based steel company Outokumpu. The full size version - some 100ft high - will stand on the Forth and Clyde Canal near Falkirk in central Scotland when complete later this year.
Outokumpu, which recently merged with Inoxum to become global leaders in stainless steel production, are producing the jig-saw pieces which will form the skin of the horses, with around 495 plates needed for each head.