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Tadeusz Sendzimir

Tadeusz Sendzimir (originally Sędzimir¹, July 15, 1894, Lwów, — September 1, 1989, Jupiter, Florida²) was an Polish engineer and inventor of international renown with 120 patents in mining and metallurgy, 73 of which were awarded to him in the United States³.

His name has been given to revolutionary methods of processing steel and metals used in every industrialized nation of the world. Sendzimir was a holder of the Polish Golden Cross of Merit (from 1938), the Bessemer Gold Medal (from 1965) and the Brinell Gold Medal from the Royal Academy of Technical Sciences in Stockholm (from 1974). 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 was established in the same year.

Early years

Sendzimir was the eldest son of Kazimierz Sędzimir and Wanda 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). 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. He worked in auto services in Kiev and in the Russian-American Chamber of commerce where he learned Russian and English.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 forced Sendzimir to flee to Vladivostok, then to Shanghai, where Sendzimir built the first factory in China which produced screws, nails and wire. Financial support was provided by the Russian-Asian Bank, headed by Poles at the time (Władysław Jezierski and Zygmunt Jastrzębski).

Immigration and researches

In 1922 Sendzimir married Barbara Alferieff. His first son Michael was born two years later. 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 the zinc bonding to a thin layer of iron hydroxide on the surface rather than the pure iron.

In 1929 Sendzimir tried to interest American industrialists in his method, but met with distrust at the start of the Great Depression. Sendzimir arrived in San Francisco, California in the next year. Returning to Poland in 1931, he obtained support for the construction of the first industrial-scale galvanizing unit and put into operation several cold strip mills. 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 easily if we ask any householder to stretch it by holding the edges".

A steel mill in Butler, Pennsylvania was founded by Sendzimir in 1936. By 1938 Armco Steel became 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 left Paris and established 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 were ignored by Socialist Poland and he wasn't mentioned in the Encyklopedia Powszechna (Universal Encyclopedia). The situation changed when Edward Gierek, a new leader of the Polish United Workers' Party, came to power. Sendzimir was awarded an Officer Cross of the Order Polonia Restituta (Krzyż Oficerski Orderu Odrodzenia Polski).

In 1975 Sendzimir gained the title of doctor honoris causa from the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków. Sendzimir's successful methods of galvanizing steel eventually were implemented in the first Z-mill rolling silicon steel, making it pliable for use in aircraft radar. From 1953 until 1989, he introduced the first productive Z-mill to Great Britain, to Japan and Canada in the 1950s and 1960s. 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 of America 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.


  1. As of the 17th century version. The surname was changed after the second arrival to the United States.
  2. According to Polski Słownik Biograficzny he died in Jupiter, Florida.
  3. Sarmatian Review XV.1


  • "I have been carrying family and the only my capital - a new method of zinc-plating to another coast of the Pacific"

See also

External links


  • Vanda Sendzimir. Steel Will: The Life of Tad Sendzimir. New York, Hippocrene Books, 1994.
  • M. Kalisz. Walcownia znaczy Sendzimir. "Przekrój", 1973, nr. 1468.
  • O. Budrewicz. Ocynkowane życie. "Perspektywy", 1974, nr. 38.

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