Automating Glass Bottle Manufacture

Michael J. Owens in 1903 invented the first commercially successful, fully automatic bottle-making machine in 1903 in Toledo, then a world glass manufacturing center. The machine could produce 13,000 bottles a day and made glass containers cheap enough for foods, beverages, and other household products. It also ended child labor in the glass industry, since teams of young boys had been employed to make glass bottles by hand, and helped to establish Toledo as "the Glass Capital of the World."

Owens came from a hard working family. His father was a coal miner, and he himself began working at the early age of ten in a glass factory in Wheeling, WV. He knew all too well the hardships of a small child working in the heat and rough environment of glass furnaces. Over the next twenty years, he moved up through the factory and ultimately became a skilled glassblower.

In 1888 he moved to Toledo, OH and began a glassblowing career at Libbey. There he developed a bottle machine that automated the bottle making process and virtually eliminated child labor in the glass industry. The project was financed by Edward D. Libbey (1854-1925) and executed with the aid of engineers William Boch, C. William Schwenzfeier, and Richard LaFrance. Through automating the glass blowing process, glass bottles and jars became less expensive to produce and were used for more and more applications.

Owens Community College in Toledo, Ohio is also named after Michael Owens. He is also the "Owens" in Owens-Illinois, Owens Corning and Libbey-Owens-Ford. 

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World's Biggest Forging Press

Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), Forging Division in Cleveland in 1954 began operating the world’s largest fabrication tool. It was a 50,000-ton hydraulic forging press critical in development of aircraft and aerospace vehicles. It was designed and built for the U.S. Air Force by the Mesta Machine Company of Pittsburgh, following the discovery a 30,000-ton press used by the Germans in World War II (later acquired by the Soviet Union). It remains in use as one of the world’s largest hydraulic presses.

What is a Press Forging?

Press Forging is a process whereby slow pressure is continuously applied to the area to be shaped. The pressure extends through the material which can be either hot or cold. Cold press forging is primarily used on thin materials, while hot press forging is preferred for larger work such as parts for trains and heavy machinery.

What is a Hydraulic Forging Press?

A basic forging press exerts a force that presses steel, aluminum, or other metal alloys into a shape, determined by the shape of a "forging die."  Forging presses are used for manufacturing everything from gears to automotive wheels. Hydraulic presses are primarily used for large or complex dies and for extrusion. They work via high-pressure fluid produced by hydraulic pumps and are used in forging large airplane components, for example.

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B. F. Goodrich Tires

Dr. Benjamin Franklin Goodrich, a Civil War surgeon, in 1870 opened the first rubber factory in Akron. Named the B. F. Goodrich Company, it introduced rubber fire hoses that replaced leather hoses and in 1896 manufactured the first rubber tires in Akron.

B.F. Goodrich became the official first producer of automobile tires when in 1896 it filled an order from the Winton Automobile Company of Cleveland. Goodrich stayed a leader for years and broadened its market by expanding bicycle tires to automobile tires, and also to other rubber products.

Did You Know?

  • In 1937, BFGoodrich developed a way to product synthetic rubber which was of use to the U.S. during World War II, as the nation's supply of natural rubber was cut off.
  • In 1961, America's first astronauts came to BFGoodrich for the suits that will protect them in outer space.
  • In 1988. BFGoodrich exited the tire business.
  • In 2001 BFGoodrich became Goodrich Corporation to reflect the growing, dynamic company it had become.
  • In 2002, Goodrich Corporation spun off its industrial products business, completing its transformation into a leading global aerospace and defense supplier.

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Goodyear Tires

Franklin August Seiberling (1859-1955) in 1898 co-founded The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Akron with his younger brother, Charles W. The company began manufacturing high quality, inexpensive tires in 1898 that put the automobile industry on a roll and helped establish Akron as the "Rubber Capital of the World." In a mere 18 years after its founding, Goodyear had become the world's largest tire company named for Charles Goodyear (1800-1860) of Connecticut whose patent number 3,633 confirmed the process of vulcanization of rubber. Vulcanization strengthened rubber for industrial applications including automobile tires by combining sulphur and white lead with India-rubber under heat, thus altering the characteristics of the product, and in the words of Goodyear, " [so] as not to become softened by the action of solar ray or of artificial heat at a temperature below that to which it was submitted in its preparation . . . nor will it be injuriously affected by exposure to cold."

Seiberling attended Heidelberg College, in Tiffin, Ohio, and then began his career working at his father's company, The Empire Mower Works. After launching Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, he was named Goodyear's president in 1906.

Frank Seiberling led the company for just over two decades, before he and his brother resigned in 1921 as the company suffered severe financial losses during an economic recession. After leaving the company, the two men founded the Seiberling Rubber Company.

Wherever he worked, Seiberling was recognized as a fair employer who had a special focus on protecting the health and safety of his workers. He was credited with striving to create a safe work environment. Along the way designed the first tire building machine and detachable wheel rim. 

His one-time home, Stan Hywet Hall, is one of the largest private residences in Ohio, and is now a museum, garden, and landmark in Akron.

Did You Know?

Franklin Augustus Seiberling, Jr. (1908-1990) worked at the Toledo Museum of Art prior to World War II, and then became an associate professor of art history at Ohio State University.

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Firestone Tires

Firestone Tires

Harvey S. Firestone (1868-1938) was a native of Columbiana, Ohio. He began manufacturing rubber tires in 1896, and founded the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio in 1900.

He secured a bank loan of $4,500 which allowed him to rent an old foundry, including some equipment. He started off with just a dozen employees. In 1906 he sold a huge order of tires (2000 sets) to Henry Ford.  This transaction helped forge what would be a lifelong friendship between the two. By 1910, Firestone profit hit $1 million.

In 1918, Firestone began to promote the "ship by truck" movement.  It encouraged trucking as a major delivery option for manufacturers (and also sold more tires). In the mid 1920's Firestone also launched a new business venture to help serve the needs of the nation's motorists: a one-stop shopping and automobile service center: Firestone Tire and Service Center. In 1932, Firestone focused on the agricultural market and developed the first low-pressure tractor tire.

Harvey Firestone died in 1938, but his company continued to thrive and expanded to become a global entity. Bridgestone purchased Firestone in 1988 for $2.6 billion, with the combined company being the world’s largest tire and rubber company.

Camp Harding

At right, a photo shows President Warren G. Harding and Harvey Firestone on a camping trip to Maryland in July 1921.  The camping trip was one of many that automobile manufacturer Henry Ford, Firestone, and inventor Thomas Edison took between 1916 and 1924. Harding was invited to this particular trip, which became known as "Camp Harding."

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Paper and Cardboard Manufacture

William H. Millspaugh (1869-1959) in 1900, founded the Sandusky Foundry & Machine Company and invented the centrifugally-cast suction rolls used in the manufacture of paper and paperboard. It was the key to development of high speed machines that manufacture paper and cardboard in widths as great as 25 feet. Prior to this development, paper was primarily hand made - a very labor intensive process that made mass production of boxes unthinkable.

Millspaugh also collaborated with shipbuilders to develop propeller sleeves and other mechanisms for ship propulsion. For his contributions to the art of papermaking, Millspaugh was awarded the second Edward Longstreth medal of the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia and gold medal by the Technical Association of the Pulp & Paper Association.

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Roller Bearings

In 1895, at age 67, Henry Timken, an inventor from Canton, invented a better bearing. This bearing was a rotating support placed between moving parts to reduce friction, now known as the "roller bearing." Conventional bearings in the 19th century worked well on wheel shafts until the wheels had to bear heavy loads from the sides. This was a problem, because turning a corner would shift the weight to one side and cause wear.

In 1887, Timken retired from a successful career as a carriage builder.  But, retirement wasn't for Timken.  He decided to return to the carriage business in 1891, and in 1892 had earned three new patents on carriage springs.  Then, he moved onto bearings, and was 67 years
old when his two tapered roller bearing patents were granted in 1898.

What is a Roller Bearing?

A rolling-element bearing is a bearing which carries a load by placing round elements between the two pieces. The relative motion of the pieces causes the round elements to roll (tumble) with little sliding. One of the earliest and best-known rolling-element bearings are sets of logs laid on the ground with a large stone block on top. As the stone is pulled, the logs roll along the ground with little sliding friction. As each log comes out the back, it is moved to the front where the block then rolls on to it. 

Did You Know?

  • After over 100 years, The Timken Company continues to serve every major manufacturing industry.
  • Timken has produced more than six billion bearings since 1899.
  • Timken's steelmelting capacity is 1.4 million tons annually.

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Ribbons of Steel

John Butler Tytus, Jr. born in Middletown, Ohio, and in 1904, began work at the American Rolling Mill, or Armco. While working there, he developed a method of continuously rolling sheets of steel called "the continuous hot strip mill."  His process made possible the fast and cheap production of high-quality steel sheets. Those continuous ribbons of steel proved essential for the manufacture of automobiles, airplanes, appliances, and thousands of other products. The continuous hot strip mill was economical, allowed for mass production, and is often considered one of the ten greatest inventions of modern times. Tytus’s rolling mill went into operation in 1926. The growth of ARMCO helped spur the growth of Middletown, where from 1900 to 1930, the population grew from 9,215 to 29,992.

ARMCO was acquired by AK Steel in 1999.  At the time, Armco Inc. was a leading domestic producer of specialty flat-rolled stainless and electrical steels with primary plants in Butler, PA and Coshocton, Mansfield, and Zanesville, OH. Armco also produced snowplows and other ice control products, and standard pipe and tubular products. AK Steel is headquartered in Middletown, Ohio.

Did You Know?

  • Robert Carnahan, an inventor with the company, developed the first rust-resistant steel in 1907.
  • A. P. Steckel, of Youngstown, invented a process for the continuous cold-strip rolling of steel. It produced high-quality steel with great efficiency and was adopted throughout the world.

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"Cover the Earth" Started in Ohio

Henry Sherwin, a Vermont native, and Ed Williams, of Kent, Ohio, formed a partnership in Cleveland in the 1870s that would revolutionize the use of paint. The Sherwin-Williams Company contributed much to paint manufacture and customer usage.  They developed resealable paint cans in 1877 and developed "ready-mix" paint in 1878. The company also adopted the famous paint to "Cover the Earth" logo in 1905, and remains a major manufacturer of paints and coatings. Sherwin-Williams Company is now the largest producer of paints and coatings in the United States, and also holds a strong international market share.

The company recently opened its Center of Excellence -- a historical facility that outlines the history of Sherwin-Williams. 

Did You Know?

  • School buses are yellow in part because of Sherwin-Williams Company. In 1939 a Sherwin-Williams color consultant, Harry Scheid, was called upon to attend a Columbia University conference that focused on bus construction.  The resulting discussion identified yellow as the best color for buses because it would be visable in early morning, or dim light, when children might be waiting at bus stops.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge is protected by Sherwin-Williams. Repainting last began in 1997 and is now part of a maintenance routine preserving the bridge 365 days a year.

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First Machine Gun

Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling, a graduate of the Ohio Medical College in Cincinnati, invented the Gatling Gun and in 1862 developed the machinery to manufacture it. The United States Army purchased a large quantity of the guns in 1865. Soon, most major European armies had them as well. The gun was forerunner of the modern machine gun, and revolutionized warfare.

The Gatling Gun had six barrels that were mounted on a revolving frame. Later configurations included ten barrels and were know to fire at the rate of over 320 rounds a minute.  In 1870, Gatling built a factory in Hartford, CT to manufacture his invention.  He also continued to refine the design, and by 1882 it was able to fire up to 1,200 rounds a minute. In addition to guns, Gatling build sowing machines, and both a steam powered and marine steam ram.

Gatling graduated from medical school in 1850, but found that he was much more interested in inventions than he was in being a doctor.  His Gatling Gun invention was inspired by observing that most of those who died during the Civil War succumbed to disease and illness instead of battle wounds.  Gattling wrote in 1877,  "It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine - a gun - which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease [would] be greatly diminished."

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First Cash Register

James S. Ritty, of Dayton, in 1879 invented the cash register, simplifying business transactions for the world’s storekeepers and consumers. John H. Patterson bought the patent on that first machine, known as "Ritty’s Incorruptible Cashier," made improvements, and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio.

Before the widespread use of cash registers it was difficult for merchants to have a clear record of what they had sold and what their profits were.  In addition to serving as a place to store money from transactions, it also provided a system for keeping track of profit and loss and determining a shop's balance at the end of a business day.

Patterson's Legacy

Patterson also made progress in terms of developing and training a sales force.  He developed selling techniques that are used to this day, and also implemented employee training. National Cash Register opened its "School of Instruction" for salesmen in 1893. Patterson was also concerned about health and education programs for employees and attempted to create positive work environments.  He developed many programs along these lines including: neighborhood improvement programs, recreational opportunities, and continuing education.

Patterson was an avid photographer as well.  He captured images from around the world,  many of which are currently available at Dayton History. Over 1.5 million images were left by Patterson and his successors -- including 100,000 glass plate negatives and 68,000 magic lantern slides. Dayton History has published a book, "Dayton Comes of Age" available here, which features 156 images carefully chosen from glass plate negatives dating from 1897 to 1922, the year of Patterson’s death.

Did You Know?

  • In 1906, Charles F. Kettering designed the first cash register that was powered by an electric motor.
  • In 1974, the National Cash Register Company changed its name to NCR Corporation.

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Your Honest Weight? From Toledo

In 1898, Allen DeVilbiss, Jr., developed a new scale that was springless and "automatic." He manufactured the scales, which for the first time incorporated a pendulum to indicate weight. In 1901 he sold his patents to the Toledo Scale and Cash Register Company, which later became the Toledo Scale Company. Within a decade, the company had sold 75,000+ scales and opened branch sales offices in fifty U.S. cities.  It became the world leading manufacturer of automatic scales and precision weighing instruments.

Toledo Scale was not only known for making a reliable and accurate product, but also for offering a service organization to keep them accurate.  Henry Theobald, founder of Toledo Scale, understood that maintaining the Toledo Scale was as important as building it in the first place.  The reputation for quality would only be maintained if the product was properly maintained as well.  He said, "We are not obligated to make more scales, but we are morally obligated to maintain the scales that we have built." As far back as 1908, Toledo Scale not only had integrated service facilities in the factory, but also established a training program for employees to service Toledo Scales on site.

Did You Know?

  • Toledo Scale used the logo "Honest Weight" to emphasize the accuracy of its products.
  • Henry Theobald, founder of the Toledo Scale Company was previously a general manager of the National Cash Register Company.
  • In 1989, Mettler acquired the Toledo Scale Corporation. The combination of these two industry leaders was the birth of Mettler-Toledo.

Process Control Pioneer

In 1915, Ervin G. Bailey, a mechanical engineer born in Ohio and educated at The Ohio State University, invented the Bailey boiler meter. He then founded Bailey Meter Company, forerunner of Bailey Controls, in 1916, to manufacture his invention. The new meters revolutionized operation of steam boilers and laid the foundation for modern process control systems used in factories around the world.

The meter monitored both the condition of the steam flow and the airflow in boilers, giving boiler operators more accurate information on air usage and steam output. The meter set the direction for future automatic boiler controls, and helped advance process control systems as we know them today. Bailey also held several other patents that focused on increasing the efficiency of coal burners. In 1979, CCI Controls acquired the Bailey line of control valves.

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Fire Safety Firsts

Harry M. Rider (1899-1995), of Youngstown, Ohio, in the early 1900s invented the first spray sprinkler system and fire detection technology still used in almost every public and commercial building.

He invented devices and systems to protect gun powder manufacturing plants, and developed the "rate of rise of temperature" method of fire detection and sprinkler activation that is present in virtually every public and commercial building today.

As Vice-President of Manufacturing and Engineering for the Automatic Sprinkler Corp., he also designed the fire protection and sprinkler systems that safeguard the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Did You Know?

  • The Mosler Safe Company, of Hamilton, Ohio, designed the storage vault in which holds these priceless documents.
  • Chester H. Pond, of Medina County, invented the first central fire-alarm system.

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SOS: Paper Grocery Bag

Charles Stilwell, a mechanical engineer in Fremont, OH, got a patent in 1883 for improvements in paper bag manufacturing machines, which led to the first machine-made folding paper bag. His design was a free-standing, flat-bottomed, brown paper bag. Dubbed the S.O.S., or Self-Opening Sack, it remains in widespread use today.  It was particularly useful to grocers as it could hold more weight than prior designs.

Folding and Gluing Too.

A woman inventor from York, ME, named Margaret Knight (1838-1914) is
credited with inventing the process for automatically folding and also
gluing paper to form a paper bag. She initially worked at the Columbia
Paper Bag Company in Springfield, MA, where bags were manually glued. Her invention  is on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

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Pop-Top Cans

Ermal Fraze, founder of the Dayton Reliable Tool & Mfg. Co. in the early 1960s invented the pop-top beverage can, which opens with the pull of a tab. Legend has it that Fraze started research on an easy-open can after being caught at a picnic without a can opener, and struggling to open cans on his car bumper.

In the late 1940's Fraze had founded Dayton Reliable Tool & Mfg. Co. (now DRT Manufacturing Company) as manufacturer of tool and die components. His understanding of materials helped him solve the pull-tab challenge. He knew he had to design a top that was easy to open, yet strong enough to contain a product under pressure during shipping.  He decided to use the lid itself to form a rivet that would hold the tab in place until a customer wanted to remove it. Iron City Brewing in Pittsburgh was the first to incorporate the new tops.  They tested them in 1962 with great success. Fraze's design truly revolutionized the beer and soft drink industries.

Some design changes were made to increase safety though -- some of the first lids were very sharp, resulting in cut fingers and lips.  And, some consumers needed a little instruction on how to open the new pop tops, so the words "Lift Tab, Pull Open" were added to some tops.

Did You Know?

  • The beer can was invented by John Leon Bennett, born August 11, 1874, in Newark, OH.
  • Kettering’s Fraze Pavilion is an amphitheater that was named for the pop tab inventor.

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