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 Simplifying the Supply Chain For High Knowledge Content Components

By The Fire

By Tim Hartigan

Many, many years ago some folks were sitting around a fire somewhere far away. There may have been some naturally fermented beverages present. We can’t say for certain, but it seems some things have endured for a good chunk of human history. When yeasts that are floating around in the air settle on sweet liquids, the yeast converts the sugars to alcohols and you get beer, cider, or wine. We can presume that those ancient people were similar to men today. If they got some alcohol in them and were near a fire, one or more of them were going to try to make the fire bigger and hotter. They surely did. They surely did some stupider stuff, too.

They learned that if you blow on the embers they get hotter. Too hot to keep one’s face close enough to blow effectively. So they experimented with fanning the flames using tree boughs and hide. They tried capturing and channeling the wind by building large venturi with stone. They created chimneys that used thermal drafts to increase airflow. They created bellows from animal skins. They made the fire hot.

Somehow, maybe through observations and experiment, but more likely as a result of serendipity, otherwise known as blind, dumb luck, they happened to make their hot fire near a copper deposit. It melted. It was impure, as was the beer, but it formed a pool of metal. The next day the metal was cool and the men were hungover. But, technology was put in motion. They learned how to work with sand so it would hold a shape while the molten metal was poured and cooled. Over the millennia thousands of engineers, craftsmen, and entrepreneurs have contributed to the body of knowledge that comprises what we know today as metalcasting.

Those ancient men had an objective in mind. They needed arrowheads, cooking pots, and tools. Soon they made aesthetic objects - art - too.  The fire, bellows, mold and all the other intermediary layers were merely means to an end. The same is true today. We make tens or hundreds of thousands of shapes. They are precision components for industry throughout the world. They keep hospitals cool, airplanes in the air, and automobiles moving. They are essential for the machines of modern society to function. We make art still as well. Art is hardwired into mankind and is as essential as any other tool.

We metalcasters are kindred spirits of those early men. We are playing with fire, learning from and about it. We’ve learned how to tame it and treat it right. In return it gives us the gift of objects precious, sacred, profane, mundane, and awesome. We are still pyromaniacs intoxicated by the flame.

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