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Lens Story: 27 of 28
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·Gravure 1 Front
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·Back Cover
NOT AN OUNCE OF OPTICAL GLASS was made in the United States before the war; ere its close we were turning out twenty tons a month.
    Prior to August, 1914, all American optical glass came from a few German, English, and French makers. The war at once cut off the German supply, and practically all the English and French product was requisitioned by these nations.
    The United States Government found itself suddenly faced by the necessity of creating its own optical-glass industry. Several manufacturers started work on the problem. The Bureau of Standards at once began research work in this field, setting up its experimental furnace and auxiliary apparatus in its Pittsburgh plant in the winter of 1914.
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    This pioneer work proved of great value. At the time of the declaration of war between the United States and Germany considerable progress had been made. There was need, at once, for very much larger quantities of optical glass. Conferences were held, and it was realized that energetic measures must be taken at once for a great expansion of the small optical-glass industry. In this work many agencies cooperated. The Bureau of Standards enlarged its Pittsburgh plant, and placed at the disposal of all interested the results of its preliminary experimental work in this field. The glass manufacturers provided enlarged facilities. As a result, the emergency was successfully met, and optical glass of excellent quality was soon being made in quantities sufficient to meet the multifarious needs of Army and Navy.
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    What of the future of this industry in the United States? Commercial and financial considerations will undoubtedly prove of paramount importance. At least two of the firms at present manufacturing optical glass propose to continue in the field; several others, which have engaged in the work to assist in meeting war needs, will cease manufacture soon. There is little profit in this product, and some patriotism will have to be combined with the profit or loss of the balance-sheet. It is not, and never will be, a very large industry, important as it is for the scientific independence of the country. American manufacturers are making as good optical glass as that of any foreign firm. Can those firms that will continue in the production of American optical glass meet the post-war competition of foreign cheaper production? This is a matter for the earnest consideration of those that desire to see America independent in this essential and important industry. It appears from assurances of students of the subject that "this country shall never again be permitted to become dependent upon foreign optical glass; we can and will make our own."
From The Literary Digest