A short history of the valve

Valves are one of the most prolific types of industrial component. Used in almost every process you can imagine, they are incredibly diverse and adaptable.

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When were valves invented

Unusually, the valve does not have just one inventor, as they’ve been in existence since ancient times, when humans used stones and trees to regulate water flow. Egyptian and Greek cultures were amongst the first to channel water to form irrigation channels to bring water to their villages or crops. During Roman times, canals were created, allowing transport of people, materials and food.

The early valve

Early valves were made of bronze welded to pipes that were already in situ. The simple designs were effective at controlIng water flow in ancient towns and villages around Europe and the Mediterranean. These early valves then moved on to become butterfly valves, which are the early form of taps. Other types of early valves included basic forms of diaphragm using leather as well as backflow and check valves, which prevented waste and clean water from mixing.

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The industrial age of valves

Little development happened after the Roman period. Leonardo Da Vinci is known to have been one of the main developers during the Renaissance period, when more sophisticated versions of the early valves appeared.

It was not until the Industrial Age that valves really saw significant advancement and this led to the development of the industrial valves we would recognise today.
Thomas Newman developed the first steam engine in 1705, which marked one of the most significant developments in human engineering. In order to make the engine work, new valves were required to regulate the high pressures required. The steam engine valves then moved on to improve the valves used for irrigation and plumbing.

By the early 1900s, specialist valve manufacturers had emerged, allowing industrial valves to be produced in higher volumes, so their use became even more widespread by farms and individuals. Moving into the modern day and companies like orseal became producers of a wide variety of valves for all sorts of uses. A comprehensive history of the valve can be seen here: http://www.valvias.com/history.php.

With such a long history and diversity of use, it is not surprising that valves have become an integral part of so many areas of manufacturing and, in turn, our daily lives.