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Prominent Poles

Tadeusz Sendzimir (originally Sędzimir) Polish-American engineer, inventor, businessman, recipient of Brinell Gold Medal

Photo of Tadeusz Sendzimir, inventor

Born:   July 15, 1894, Lwów , Austro-Hungarian partition of Poland (presently Lviv, Ukraine)

Died:  September 1, 1989, Waterbury, Connecticut, USA

Summary. He was the inventor of internationally renown with 120 patents in mining and metallurgy, 73 of which were awarded to him in the United States.. His name has been given to revolutionary methods of processing steel and metals used in every industrialized nation of the world.

Early days. Sedzimir was the eldest of four choldren of Kazimierz Sedzimir- an official in the office of supervision of salt mines- and of Wanda nee Jaskółowska. Fascinated by machinery as a child, he built his own camera at the age of 13. After studying at the 4th Classical Gymnasium (Gimnazjum Klasyczne) in Lwów he entered the Polytechnic Institute (Politechnika Lwowska) which he finished as a Mechanical Engineer.

Professional career. During the upheavals of the World War I and the Russian Revolution of 1917 he worked in the auto services in Kiev and in the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce where he learned Russian and English. At the end of the WWI Sendzimir moved across Russia through Vladivostok to Shanghai, China where he built the first in China factory producing screws, nails and wire. Financial support was provided by the Russian-Asian Bank, headed at the time by Poles. However when Lwów was captured by Russian troops the Polytechnic Institute has been closed and Sendzimir stayed unemployed. He decided to work in Russian army, but after its retreat was forced to evacuate to Kiev. In 1922 Sendzimir married Barbara Alferieff. His first son Michael was born in 1924. They divorced in 1942. Designing and making his own machines, Sendzimir began experimenting with a new way to galvanize steel. Despite galvanizing, the products still tended to oxidize. Sendzimir discovered that the problem involved zinc bonding to a thin layer of iron hydroxide on the surface rather than to the pure iron. In 1929 he went to the USA where he tried, unsuccessfully because of the economic situation at that time, to interest American industrialists in his method. Returning to Poland in 1931, he obtained support for the construction of the first industrial-scale galvanizing unit in Huta Pokoj (Nowy Bytom) and in 1933 put into operation first in the world cold strip mill in Śląski Przemysł Cynkowy S.A. in Kostuchna, Poland. The idea has been explained by him as follows: "Let's imagine a piece of a hard pastry. We are rolling it on the molding-board to decrease its thickness. However it would be faster and easier if we ask any householder to stretch it by holding the edges". His discovery made him known abroad and in 1935 he moved to Paris. A steel mill in Butler, Pennsylvania have been founded by Sendzimir in 1936. By 1938 Armco Steel was interested in his work and they formed a partnership, the Armzen Company, to oversee the worldwide expansion of his galvanizing and mill technology. In the spring of 1939 Sendzimir has left Paris and placed his residence in Middletown, Ohio. Sendzimir's patented rolling mill could roll very hard materials down to very light gauges. The US company, T. Sendzimir, Inc., was established by Sendzimir in the 1940s in Waterbury, Connecticut. In 1945 Sendzimir married Bertha Bernoda and became a USA citizen the following year. After the war was over Sendzimir's achievements and his personality as a foreign immigrant have been ignored by the Communist Poland and he even hasn't been mentioned in Encyklopedia Powszechna (Universal Encyclopedia). The situation changed when Edward Gierek, a new leader of the Communist Party of Poland, came to power in 1970. Sendzimir's successful methods of galvanizing steel eventually were implemented in the first Z-mill rolling silicon steel, making it pliable for aircraft radar. From 1953 until 1989, he introduced the first productive Z-mill to Great Britain and to Japan and Canada in the l950s and l960s. In 1974 Sendzimir invented a spiral steel looper used in the United States and Japan. With companies in 3 countries up to 90 percent of the world's stainless steel passed through the Sendzimir process by the early 1980s. Poland, France, the United Kingdom, Japan and Canada have purchased his steel mills and technologies over the years. Most notably, Sendzimir was a major financial and personal supporter of the Kościuszko Foundation, the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences and Alliance College in Pennsylvania. Sendzimir died after a massive stroke and was buried by his family in a zinc-plated coffin made according to his technology.
His daughter, Vanda Sendzimir (a one time member of the US Communist party) published his biography:
Steel Will: The Life of Tad Sendzimir. New York, Hippocrene Books, 1994

Honors and awards. Sendzimir was a holder of the Polish Golden Cross of Merit (1938), Medal of the American Zinc Institute (1949), British Bessemer Gold Medal (1965) and the Brinell Gold Medal from the Royal Academy of Technical Sciences in Stockholm (1974). Sendzimir was also awarded an Officer Cross of the Order of the Restoration of Poland (Krzyż Oficerski Orderu Odrodzenia Polski). In 1973 Sendzimir gained a title of doctor honoris causa from the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków. On the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty he was one of those prominent immigrants honored for their contributions to America. In 1990 Poland's large steel plant in Kraków (formerly the Lenin Steelworks) was renamed to Tadeusz Sendzimir Steelworks. The AIST Tadeusz Sendzimir Memorial Medal has been established in the same year.

Based on an article that appears in Wikipedia (with small modifications):
This is the "GNU Free Documentation License" reference article from the English Wikipedia. All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

Other sources:
Nowa Huta (in Polish)

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