Whitworth's machine for planing metal, 1842.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This machine helped reduce the labour costs of making a flat metal surface. Sir Joseph Whitworth (1803-1887), was an English mechanical engineer who pioneered precision measurement. He created a small workshop to produce hand tools which expanded to make machine tools and engines, including steam engines. Whitworth's factory also produced small arms and later, big guns, and improved the quality of steel by subjecting the molten metal to presure during its solidification, later known as 'Whitworth steel'.