In the early days the choice of materials was easier. The bicycle, or rather the traversing wheel, illustrated above, was made, except for the axles, completely out of wood. Nowadays the materials determine largely further developments, e.g., in the area of car body and chassis building.
How it works
When the first cars were developed, the materials were still largely identical with those of carriages. Also after the turn of the century, wood and iron were still the most widely used materials. As material for main girders for frame and chassis, rolled and forged steel was only used later. Wood in combination with sheet-metal remained the components most frequently used in car bodies until shortly before the Second World War, even later it was still sporadically used in vehicles. Up to the first third of the last century varnished wood was used, and later, as a variation, leather coated. Thus for a long time car bodies remained similar to carriages and were also accordingly oversized.
This was changed only by research, which was sped up particularly in the automobile factories. Still today, by the way, the research done in the factories is generally ahead of that done in the universities. However, the automobile factories do in fact make use of quite a lot of the basic researching done in the universities. As it was in the middle ages, in civil engineering the emphasis was more and more on material saving and cheaper manufacturing. The introduction of the production line in 1913 is only one example.
Quite early in the 20th century all-steel bodies were made in series, however, they could assert themselves only with the development of presses for the vacuum forming of large sheet metal parts. Their improvement is still going on today. At the moment it is, e.g., about the manufacturing of variable sheet metal thickness. By comparison the introduction of spot-welding was easier. But also this development is by no means at its peak, e.g., through the introduction of laser welding. 08/08