Lens Story: 27 of 28
AMERICAN OPTICAL GLASS
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.
* * *
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.
* * *
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