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From iron ball to Zladinox



«It is possible to name the Zlatoust plant by Sheffild and

Birmingham of Ural Ridge, the factory of a cold

weapon which was in it  costs on a high level of perfection …

It is quite doubtful, whether will be though one factory

in the whole world which withstood competitions

with Zlatoust in weapon manufacture …»
R. Murchison, 1841


  The history of the Ural metallurgy totals the millennia. Originating in ancient times, it passed a long road from primitive smelting pits and primitive furnaces to modern complex metallurgical processes and melting units, stainless steel and steel alloys.

   Already in the IV-III millennium BC in the region there was a developed metallurgy, supplying the hardware tribes in the vast area of Eurasia to the west and east of the Ural Mountains. By waterways to the southern taiga zone was the way of the prestigious hardware from Baikal to the Crete-Mycenaean world. Formation of ancient Proto-Indo-Aryans civilization in the South Urals, was associated with the development of metallurgy.

  Ancient historians wrote about Riphaeus (Ural) mountains, on which the border of two worlds ran: civilized European and the distant, mysterious – Asian. Here, on the border between two continents, crossed destinies of different world civilizations that have left an indelible mark on the history and culture of our region. About the enormous natural wealth hidden in the mountains Riphaeus in V century BC Herodotus talked.

In the I millennium AD., the era of the Great Migration, from the east to the Ural steppes the wave of nomads, which spilled into Eastern Europe and almost swept Western. In the middle of the II millennium AD hordes of Mongols passed through Ural. At the end of the XI century on a sable trace Russians who mastered this edge came to lands of mysterious Yugra, they approved here the Russian statehood. Gradually, transition from trade and agrarian mastering to the industrial happened due to the efforts of many generations of Ural residents. In XVII — the first half of the XIX century in the Urals the largest mining and metallurgical basis, well-known Demidovs "mountain kingdom" is created. It was "Golden Age" of the Ural metallurgy when it acquired a world fame. Nevyansk, Nizhni Tagil, Sysert, Staroutkinsk, etc. – in tens of the Ural cities at the beginning of the XVIII century are created large domain and metallurgical productions on the high technical basis corresponding to level of the best steel works of that time of the West European countries.

In 1751, at Mount Kosotur, "between weighty rocks" on the Ay River began the construction of Kosotur, later named Zlatoust, iron plant. In 1769 two blast furnaces already worked, 3 forge factories with 20          finery hammers, a flaking factory with 4 camps are constructed. By the end of the XVIII century the plant annually melted to 275 thousand poods of cast iron. Forged iron: Band - 70 thousand poods, bar - 50 thousand poods, flatting - 40 thousand poods, sheet - 10 thousand poods.  About 190 poods of steel that was considered at that times as good achievement were made.

At the beginning of the XIX century, in connection with the organization of factory of the white weapon "in the manner of Solingen", the best masters from Solingen and Klingenteil were invited in Zlatoust. Along with polishers, engravers, painters have arrived specialists in casting and forging. Soon on river banks of Gromotukha at the expense of treasury more than ten smithies was constructed. And soon smiths showed the ability of faultless forging of different types of a cold weapon, including sabers on Asian manners – “damask” and “iron cut”. It is necessary to mark that during this period in Zlatoust was much remarkable masters smiths. Practically from the first days, having adopted experience at the German experts, they didn't concede to them as operation, and since 1824 "for excellent art of forging of blades of the officer and soldier's weapon" were repeatedly awarded by medals and awards.

The special period of development of Zlatoust metallurgy is connected with a name of outstanding Russian metallurgist P. Anosov. Having begun service at plant in 1817 as a probationer and having finished in 1847 as the mining chief of Zlatoust mountain district, it made a big contribution to development of plant and weapon factory, in gain of their hardware. World popularity and glory to P. Anosov was brought by his operations on production of steel. He discovered the secret of manufacture of bulat (damask) steel lost in the Middle Ages; he invented a new method of receiving cast pot steel; for the first time in a pattern he applied gas cementation; he began development of scientific bases of metallurgical processes. In the forties the mass production of a cold weapon from bulat and weld (damask) steel began. Only in 1839 on an exhibition to St. Petersburg shipped some tens different bulat sabers "as Circassian, Turkish, infantry, horse", "knifes hunting different", and also tens "bulat razors", braids and axes with "the welded-on bulatny edge". Thanks to diligence of P. Anosov Zlatoust plant turned into one of the best Ural plants. R. Murchison who has visited Zlatoust in 1841, wrote: «It is possible to name the Zlatoust plant by Sheffild and Birmingham of Ural Ridge, the factory of a cold weapon which was in it costs on a high level of perfection … It is quite doubtful, whether will be though one factory in the whole world which withstood competitions with Zlatoust in weapon manufacture…». After P. Anosov's departure production of bulat steel was contracted. But production of Damascus steel proceeded, in some years the number of the weapon from Damascus steel reached hundred pieces. The main pattern of the Zlatoust Damascus steel – "the Turkish tape". In Zlatoust Museum of local lore there is the little table from such Damascus which pinches show technology of receiving such Damascus. Benchs with the technological diagram and full-scale samples of Damascus at the beginning of the 20th century were fixed by the known photographer Prokudin-Gorsky.

In the late fifties the beginning of the 60th years of the XIX century other great Russian metallurgist P.Obukhov, being the director of Weapon factory, invented and I implemented a new crucible method of mass production of the cheap high-quality steel exceeding on the properties English and German steel, and suggested to begin manufacture from it artillery pieces. In 1862 at the World Fair in London, the first Russian steel gun which has withstood 4000 shots, was marked by the Gold medal. But as show the last finds, he didn't give up hope to open a secret of bulat steel.

Incidentally production of damask and bulat steel in Zlatoust proceeded prior to the beginning of the XX century. Due to the transition from crucible smelting to martin and electrosteel-smelting production, from forge processing to rolling low-technology production of damask and bulat steel came to naught. But operations on development of new technologies of receiving bulat steel proceeded in research laboratories of Plant named in honor of Lenin (the former Zlatoust weapon factory), Zlatoust Metallurgical Works and the Zlatoust branch of the Chelyabinsk polytechnical institute. In 1991 the group of enthusiasts under the leadership of the high teacher of polytechnical institute Vladimir Gerasimov patented a method of receiving bulat steel. Research caused a great interest among the weapon companies of Zlatoust. But the work does not stop Due to the development of the knife market interest to Damascus steels became aggravated. But the traditional technology – forge welding, doesn't allow receiving damask steels from high-alloy steel, possessing such important consumer property as resistance to corrosion. In 2009 V. Gerasimov, having achieved excellent result – quality welding practically of any steels and alloys, implements in "A&R" Company the unique production technology of rust-resistant damask steel. By his scientific effort he was assisted by the scientists of the Institute of metals of the Urals Department of RAS, specialists of Central Labors of Magnitogorsk Iron&Steel works. He discusses many questions also with his foreign colleagues.

Zladinox (Zlatoust+Damast+Inoxidable) – under such name the “A&R” Company” has represented on the market its new product – carbon and weatherproof composite (damask) steels. And directly gained recognition from the Russian and foreign knife makers  at the shows Klinok, Arsenal, IWA, Macher Messe Solingen, S.I.C.A.C. etc. Using the steel with the content of carbon over 1,5% allows to reach the high cutting properties marked by many vendors of knifes. But thus in technology of hand forging that gives to Zlatoust damask "lively" character, originality. These by the way appreciate European masters very much. The technology of "A&R" Company" allows to vary over a wide range composition formulation (there were compositions with the content of carbon in a high-carbon layer 1,6; 1,8 and even 2,9% and the content of vanadium up to 10%), quantity of layers (150, 300, 600 and above) and a pattern ("twist", "wild", "the Turkish band", etc.) depending on objectives.