SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
James Watt originally suggested the steam-hammer in 1784, but it was James Nasmyth (1808-1890) who developed it for practical use. A prolific designer of machine tools, he was asked in1839 to find a method of forging a large-diameter paddle-shaft for the steamship Great Britain and immediately devised his steam-hammer. Steam is injected into the overhead cylinder to raise the hammer which falls when the steam is allowed to escape. In a double-acting hammer, after the hammer has been raised, steam is injected above the cylinder piston to give a more powerful downward blow. The steam-hammer greatly increased the size of forging that was possible.
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