Industrial Revoultion Project

Interchangable Parts

Eli Whitney

Interchangeable parts are parts that are, for practical purposes, identical. They are made to specifications that ensure that they are so nearly identical that they will fit into any assembly of the same type. One such part can freely replace another, without any custom fitting. This interchangeability allows easy assembly of new devices, and easier repair of existing devices, while minimizing both the time and skill required of the person doing the assembly or repair


During the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, machines took over most of the manufacturing work from men, and factories replaced craftsmen’s workshops. The event that laid the groundwork for this monumental change was the introduction of interchangeable parts, or pre-manufactured parts that were for all practical purposes identical, into the firearms industry. Interchangeable parts, popularized in America when Eli Whitney used them to assemble muskets in the first years of the 19th century, allowed relatively unskilled workers to produce large numbers of weapons quickly and at lower cost, and made repair and replacement of parts infinitely easier.

why is there a need for this project?

In 1797, when Congress voted to prepare the nation for war with France, including the appropriation of a large amount of funds for new weapons, the young inventor Eli Whitney–already known for his invention of the cotton gin in 1794–seized an opportunity to try to make his fortune. In mid-1798, he obtained a government contract to manufacture 10,000 muskets within an extraordinarily short time frame of less than two years.

why is this invention inportant in history?

dividing labor efficiently among his largely unskilled work force and building precision equipment that enabled the production of large numbers of identical parts quickly and at a relatively low cost.