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Metal wired elements were initially made
of Chromel-wire, an invention done in
1905 by Albert Marsh, in close
cooperation with William Hoskins.
Chromel (also known as nichrome) was
an alloy of nickel and chrome. It had a
stable and slightly positive temperature
coefficient at high temperatures and
when heated it formed a anti-oxidant
protective layer of chromium-oxide on the
surface of the wire. This allowed the wire
to glow under atmospheric conditions
without burning or further corrosion. The
wire was wound into a spiral and than
wrapped around a ceramic body. It could be heated to about 1100 degrees Celsius.
From the beginning of the 1930s, elements made of Kanthal appeared on the market.
Kanthal is an acronym for Hans von Kantzow from Hallstahammar, Sweden, who
invented this alloy of iron, chrome and aluminium. Like Chromel, Kanthal formed an
anti-oxidant protective layer at the surface of the wire, a layer made of
aluminium-oxide. Kanthal could withstand higher temperatures than Chromel and
since it was also easier to process, Kanthal elements soon became the standard.