Historically, production materials continue to improve, it is closely related with the development of human society. So historians have used the materials to mark historical periods, such as the stone age, bronze age, iron age, etc.
To the end of the 17th century used by clear and non-ferrous metals total 8. The Chinese nation in the discovery and production of non-ferrous metals has been a major contribution (see history of metallurgy).
After entering the 18th century, the rapid development of science and technology, and contributed to the discovery of many new non-ferrous metal elements. Above 64 kinds of nonferrous metal except in the 17th century was known before the application of 8 species, found in the 18th century-13. 19th century discovered 39 species, into the 20th century, also found that 4.