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Metals – red hot, glittering gold and steel blue. You can find all of the topics and content that are outlined below in the exhibition.

Historical Metallurgy

Upon entering the exhibition from the hallway to the Mine, visitors can learn about metallurgy from its earliest days to the modern age. The panorama in the first room of the exhibition depicts highlights of the history of metals right up to industrialisation. Here, the production of the “oldest” metals, such as copper and bronze, and their shaping through forming and casting are explained. This is followed by the main metallurgical techniques used during the Renaissance, as described by Georgius Agricola in his famous book “On the Nature of Metals”. These techniques remained unchanged until industrialisation. Among the outstanding objects are dioramas that recreate the atmosphere of early ironworks and metalworking workshops.

Siegerland Blast Furnace and Steel Production in the 19th Century

The virtually life-size diorama of the Siegerland blast furnace depicts the extraction of pig iron in the furnace, the production of steel in the finery forge and – with the aid of a scythe-making forge – it shows just how important forging was as a metalworking method on the eve of industrialisation.

The adjacent exhibition area in the large exhibition hall covers the period up to around 1850, when coke and bituminous coal replaced charcoal in the production of pig iron and steel. In addition, steam power was used to provide blast air and for forging purposes.

Mild Steel, Modern Iron and Steel Production

The next section of the exhibition takes us right up to the mid-20th century, which began with a revolution: for the first time, molten steel could be produced directly from pig iron. The focal point is thus on the cross-section of a Bessemer converter for the transformation of molten pig iron into mild steel. The Mannesmann process for the production of seamless steel pipes is shown as a representative example of steel forming.

The model of a modern blast furnace (Schwelgern II, Duisburg, Germany) shows the latest iron production technology. The model of a basic oxygen process (BOP) steel mill and the continuous casting machine that dominates the room represent modern-day steel production. Modern forming techniques – forging, drawing and rolling – are illustrated with a number of original exhibits.

Special Metals: Non-Ferrous and Refractory

The exhibition is divided according to individual metal types and covers the extraction of copper, lead, zinc and aluminium as well as the special metals tungsten, tantalum and niobium. Metal smelting methods such as various furnace and converter processes as well as electrolysis are also presented here.

Selected objects include a small water-jacket blast furnace as well as parts of a zinc muffle furnace and electrolysis cells. Traditional processes, such as the reverberatory furnace, are compared with modern processes, such as the roasting furnace. The subject of recycling is also addressed.

Refractory metals – ever heard of them? Rare metals such as tungsten, tantalum or niobium pose unique challenges for extraction and refining processes; these refractory metals cannot be produced with normal furnaces. The exhibition includes a component section of an electron beam furnace for refining special metals and a hydrogen reduction furnace. Modern forming methods such as aluminium extrusion or the casting-rolling of zinc sheets are examples of further processing methods.

Powder Metallurgy and Stainless Steel

In the gallery, powder metallurgy techniques used to produce intricately shaped components from metal powders are explained using a powder compaction press and a model of a sintering furnace.

The exhibition section on stainless steel spans the spectrum from the basic metallurgy and production of stainless steels, to the manufacture of semi-finished products and many other applications. In addition, recycling and the history of the development of stainless steels are explored.