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H.H. Timken’s quest for clean steel continues 100 years later

TimkenSteel was born out of the need for a steady supply of clean steel.

The man behind that push into steel production was born 148 years ago today on April 19, 1868.

But it wasn’t Henry Timken, the hall of fame inventor and founder of The Timken Company, who made the bold move. It was his son Henry Heinzelman Timken.

With World War I making it difficult to purchase seamless tubing for bearing production, H.H. Timken decided to build a tube mill in 1915.

H.H. Timken (foreground) watches steel pouring at the company’s first melt shop in 1917. H.H. Timken (foreground) watches steel pouring at the company’s first melt shop in 1917.

The facility on Harrison Avenue in Canton began operations Dec. 17, 1915, where “steel billets were heated, then pierced to form rough tubes, rolled to approximate size, cold-drawn to exact dimensions, straightened, annealed and sent to the bearing factory,” according to the 1998 book Timken: from Missouri to Mars – a Century of Leadership in Manufacturing.

H.H. didn’t stop there. He proceeded in 1917 to build a melt shop, the country’s largest electric-furnace facility at the time. By the following year, Timken had invested about $1 million in steelmaking and put us on the path to where we are today. All of our steelmaking is still in the city where H.H. began it.

He also began a metallurgical research program that led to the use of a nickel-molybdenum alloy as a basic bearing material. That ongoing research – and H.H.’s drive for innovation – continues 100 years later with the TimkenSteel Technology Center.

Next year, we’ll celebrate our centennial at TimkenSteel – marking the anniversary of when we melted our first heat of clean steel.