MATERION COMPANY HISTORY
In the 1920s, few outside of the scientific community knew much about beryllium. Yet, its unrivaled properties – light weight, high strength, non-magnetic properties and transparency to X-rays – presented significant promise for commercialization. Inspired by that challenge, two young researchers turned from their work on mineral crystals to the metal. Brush Laboratories was started in 1921 by Charles Brush, Jr. and Dr. C. Baldwin Sawyer, who pioneered work in the extraction of beryllium from ore and the production of beryllium metal, oxide and master alloys.
The fledgling organization suffered a setback in 1927 with the death of 35-year-old Charles F. Brush, Jr. followed by the death two years later of Charles F. Brush, Sr., the world renowned inventor of the electric arc lamp. Associates Dr. Sawyer and Swedish chemical engineer Bengt Kjellgren, pressed on to create Brush Beryllium Company, the predecessor to Materion Corporation.
Above: Charles F. Brush, legendary inventor of the electric arc lamp and a main benefactor to the firm that would become Brush Engineered Materials (now Materion),was also a pioneer in harnessing wind power into electrical energy. In 1888, Brush had a mammoth windmill built behind his Cleveland estate to generate electricity for the Brush homestead (background) and its laboratories, making it among the first homes in the world to be electrified. A commitment to this non-polluting, renewable energy source continues today, with Materion's ToughMet® materials serving an essential component in wind turbine systems in operation. (Copies of originals from the Dept. of Special Collections, Kelvin Smith Library, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.)
KEY DATES & EVENTS
The 1930s – Harnessing the Magic of Beryllium
1931 - Capitalized with $500, Brush Beryllium Company was incorporated on January 9, 1931 in Cleveland, Ohio.
The 1940s – World War II Hits Home
1941-45 - During WW II, Brush supplied more than half of the country’s copper beryllium requirements, used extensively in forged aircraft engine bushings and cast brake and clutch rings for Navy marine diesels for its strength and resistance to corrosion.
1947 – Headquarters and R&D moves to Perkins Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. Brush perfects powder metallurgy techniques to make pure beryllium over earlier cast form.
1948 – A devastating fire occurred at the plant in Lorain, Ohio, causing $350,000 in damages and forcing Brush out of production of copper beryllium for the next five years.
1949 - The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) became the first significant user of metallic beryllium and beryllium oxide after research scientists discovered pure beryllium was the ideal material for enabling controlled atomic reactions.
The 1950s – Impact of the Atomic Age and the Cold War
1950 – The Atomic Energy Commission contracted with Brush to build a pure beryllium plant in Luckey, Ohio which the company brought on line in 1950.
1953 – Brush opens its Elmore, Ohio facility to replace alloy production lost at Lorain five years earlier. At its opening, the plant could produce 1.8 million lbs. per year.
1955 – Annual sales quadrupled to $16 million by mid-decade, up from $3.6 million in 1950.
1956 – Brush goes public with stock offering
1957 – Brush purchases Penn Precision Products in Reading, Pennsylvania and enters the copper beryllium rolled products business
1958 – Beryllium was discovered to be the ideal material for heat shields on early space capsules.
The 1960s – Exploring the New Frontier
1960 – Sales reach $28.7 million as the company’s products, coming into their own as structural materials, were in high demand due to the aggressive pursuit of space exploration and advances in defense technology.
1961 – Brush Beryllium Company moves to its new headquarters, R&D facility and fabrication operation on St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio.
1961 – Commander Alan B. Shepard became the first American to make a flight into space. A Brush-produced heat shield, as well as shingles and plates of beryllium provided the re-entry surface of the capsule.
1964 – Famous race car driver A.J. Foyt wins Indianapolis 500 with a set of “heat loving, weight saving” beryllium brakes from Brush materials.
1969 – Brush develops bertrandite ore deposits in Utah with construction of a new ore mine and processing mill making Brush the only fully integrated producer of beryllium, beryllium containing alloys and beryllia ceramic.
The 1970s – Toward a Safer World
1970 – Sales reach $40.9 million as Brush begins to target the auto industry and the mainframe computer industry for ceramics and copper-based alloys.
The 1980s – Miniaturization and “Me” are Key
1980 – Opens new beryllium ceramics facility in Tucson, Arizona.
1981 – Acquires ceramics operation in Newburyport, Massachusetts in order to manufacture a new generation of beryllia ceramic electronic packages. In addition, the company increased its global foot print by establishing offices in Germany, England and Japan; and beryllium metal, alloys and ceramic parts fly on NASA’s new Space Shuttle.
1982 – Acquires Technical Materials, Inc. in Lincoln, Rhode Island.
1986 – Acquires Williams Gold Refining Company in Buffalo, New York, later to be named Williams Advanced Materials Inc.
1987 – Electronic-related end-use markets had become the largest single customer sector for Brush.
The 1990s – A Change in Focus
1990 – Brush Wellman acquired Electrofusion Corporation in Fremont, California.
1992 – Brush Wellman Singapore (Pte) Ltd. was formed to provide local service and distribution in Southeast Asia.
1996 – Brush announces plans to invest $120 million for its Elmore Expansion Project , its largest capital investment ever.
1997 – New $10 million Brush Engineered Bronze facility opens in Lorain, Ohio.
1998 – Williams Advanced Materials acquires PureTech Inc., in Brewster, New York.
The 2000s – Building for the Future
2000 – Brush Wellman Inc., Technical Materials Inc, Zentrix Technologies, and Williams Advanced Materials and the foreign subsidiaries became wholly-owned subsidiaries of a newly created holding company, Brush Engineered Materials Inc.
2000-2004 – Established additional distribution, service and sales organizations in Asia to serve that growing market.
2003-2004 – Brush refinances debt and issues offering of common stock.
2005– Brush delivered optical grade beryllium mirror blanks to Northrop Grumman Space Technology for the primary mirror for NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope.
2005 – Williams acquires OMC Scientific Holdings in Ireland, and Thin Film Technology, Inc. in Buellton, California.
2006 – Williams acquires CERAC, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
– Brush reaches 75th anniversary on January 9.
2008 – Williams acquired Techni-Met in Windsor, Connecticut.
2009 – Williams acquired Barr Associates Inc. in Westford, Massachusetts and Academy Corporation in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The 2010s – Becoming One Company
2010 – New beryllium pebble plant opens at the Elmore facility completed under an innovative private-public, cost-sharing partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense.