Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Why no Glass produced in the states, this explains it.

  • Please log in to reply
64 replies to this topic

#1 Neptune

Neptune

    Apollo

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,403
  • Joined: 16 Apr 2007
  • Loc: Georgia

Posted 10 October 2020 - 07:28 AM

I just came across this post from Roland Christian of Astro-Physics in the Yahoo groups.  He is answering a members questions, which are,

 

What is it that makes a good optical glass ?
What was the innovation that led to the development of the ED glass that is commonly used to make APO lenses ?

Why is it so hard to find this glass, and are there no domestic manufacturers or suppliers ?  

 

 

Roland reply,

 

"Good optical glass is very homogeneous thruout and can thus transfer the light beam accurately to focus. Bad glass has internal striae which bend the light away from perfect focus. Best optical glass for homogeneity is low index ED glass and hard crown like BK7, BSL7 etc. Worst glass for homogeneity is heavy dense flints and lanthanum glasses. Reason is that during melting, they need to be constantly stirred to prevent the heavy components from sinking. This stirring can cause striae. I worked in the glass plant at B&L in the early 70's and talked to the opticians about quality glass. It was difficult to make quality glass in heavy dense types. They always complained about the poor quality flints they had to work with for the specialty cameras that went into the U2 spy planes and other military projects.

ED glass became available in sizes up to 8 - 9 inches when Ohara started melting FPL51 and FPL52. The latter glass was of superb quality and could be mated with hard crown glass to produce essentially color-free triplets. Before Ohara, Schott had a few special glasses that were not of low enough dispersion to make apos, and not of large enough sizes to be interesting, and of course at very high cost. The camera industry in Japan was the driving force for ED glass, to be used in super telephotos for sports events and for commercial TV cameras.

There are no domestic manufacturers of optical glass. The ovens needed for melting high purity glass require platinum lining inside. When catalytic converters were added to automobiles, the price of platinum soared. Companies like B&L, Kodak and Corning tore down their furnaces and sold all their platinum. Japanese companies like Ohara did not sell their platinum, even though it would have boosted their earnings.
When Marj and I toured the Ohara glass plant we saw the same electric furnaces that B&L had torn down to get at the platinum. We were told that a typical company like Ohara has a planning horizon of something like 50 years, compared to a US company that looks 5 years forward, and sometimes not even that. No way was Ohara going to sell their platinum for a momentary gain. I think you'll see that the Chinese companies are even more disciplined and plan way into the future. Just think, where is Kodak, B&L and Corning today? Scattered to the winds they are.

Rolando"

 

What a very sad commentary of our times, seems we have made our beds and now we must lie in them. When will we learn that the all mighty dollar is not the end-all-be-all of our existence.

 

David

 


  • Dave Mitsky, Paul G, Joe Bergeron and 51 others like this

#2 junomike

junomike

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 19,872
  • Joined: 07 Sep 2009
  • Loc: Ontario

Posted 10 October 2020 - 07:39 AM

Like most things, It's cheaper (and easier) to just "order in" from outside North America.

It's highly possible that the same glass produced locally would actually cost more.


  • Neptune, attila23 and jeffreym like this

#3 gnowellsct

gnowellsct

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Posts: 18,190
  • Joined: 24 Jun 2009

Posted 10 October 2020 - 09:35 AM

The division of labor is linked to efficiency and lowered prices in production. Adam Smith was so proud of this that he put it into page one chapter one of the wealth of nations. The division of labor depends on market size. Market size in turn depends on how many people are interested in buying the product and access to those people. All things being equal international markets will provide more buyers and more opportunity for specialization and efficiency in the Smithian sense. There are some products which would not, and probably could not, exist without production on an international scale for international markets. Optical glass is when such example. Telescopes are a very small market. But cameras and lenses for projectors are a very large market. Existence of the large market that makes it possible to produce for the small market. If you want someone to make astronomical glass in the United States and to do so economically You would be well advised to get started in the larger markets for projection, cameras, movie cameras, and scientific and medical instruments with optical components. The problem you would face is that somebody is already doing all of that.
  • Yu Gu, Live_Steam_Mad, Astrojensen and 2 others like this

#4 TOMDEY

TOMDEY

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,714
  • Joined: 10 Feb 2014
  • Loc: Springwater, NY

Posted 10 October 2020 - 10:16 AM

Interesting! I was a coating engineer at B&L back in the 1970s, and got a nice tour of the B&L Glass Plant down in the Genesee River Gorge... where they were making some of my stuff. Someone showed me one of the Platinum Crucibles and the paddles that stirred the specialty glass, which were made in small batches. They looked like giant lab beakers... but were huge and oppressively heavy! One of them had disappeared and the police were called in on it. I'd swear the one I looked at must have weighed fifty pounds... of pure platinum! At today's rate... that could be well over half a million dollars in material!    Tom

Attached Thumbnails

  • 24 Bausch & Lomb river complex 49.jpg

Edited by TOMDEY, 10 October 2020 - 10:25 AM.

  • Paul Hyndman, Rollo, SteveG and 11 others like this

#5 Starhawk

Starhawk

    Space Ranger

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,533
  • Joined: 16 Sep 2008
  • Loc: Tucson, Arizona

Posted 10 October 2020 - 01:55 PM

Yep.  All you had to do was sell the seed corn to get promoted to VP and cash out.  The fact the company no longer had a business without it...well, that was someone else's problem.

 

-Rich

 

Interesting! I was a coating engineer at B&L back in the 1970s, and got a nice tour of the B&L Glass Plant down in the Genesee River Gorge... where they were making some of my stuff. Someone showed me one of the Platinum Crucibles and the paddles that stirred the specialty glass, which were made in small batches. They looked like giant lab beakers... but were huge and oppressively heavy! One of them had disappeared and the police were called in on it. I'd swear the one I looked at must have weighed fifty pounds... of pure platinum! At today's rate... that could be well over half a million dollars in material!    Tom


  • Jon Isaacs, JoeBftsplk, AZStarGuy and 7 others like this

#6 gezak22

gezak22

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,319
  • Joined: 15 Aug 2004
  • Loc: On far side of moon. Send help.

Posted 10 October 2020 - 02:48 PM

Like most things, It's cheaper (and easier) to just "order in" from outside North America.

It's highly possible that the same glass produced locally would actually cost more.

True, but when I spend my $$$ locally, my community benefits from it, and as a result I too will benefit indirectly. For that reason, whenever possible, I try to buy as locally as possible. But of course, there are exceptions, as the APM in my signature demonstrates.


  • RubyCruxis likes this

#7 TOMDEY

TOMDEY

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,714
  • Joined: 10 Feb 2014
  • Loc: Springwater, NY

Posted 10 October 2020 - 03:32 PM

Yep.  All you had to do was sell the seed corn to get promoted to VP and cash out.  The fact the company no longer had a business without it...well, that was someone else's problem.

-Rich

 

Lot of truth to that. I was at B&L for twelve years, when things were sliding downhill. They even hired in a ~Professional Hit Man~ from the outside to reimagine the downsizing Slash & Burn, which is exactly what he did, with reckless abandon and apparent glee. I couldn't help but notice piles of seemingly-productive ~late fifties~ senior scientists and engineers getting loser assignments and provoked into quitting... which most did. I believe it relates to labor laws regarding quitting (preferred) to firing (corp wants to avoid). I was a young "Senior Research Scientist" by then, and well-treated... but distinctly recall thinking to myself, "That will be me in a couple+ decades!" So, I started interviewing around HP, TI, Bell, ITT, Xerox --- and happily hired into Kodak, Federal Systems (Aerospace Contracts). Years later I got the scuttlebutt regarding my hiring >>> Conservatve Ingrown Kodak Research Labs wanted nothing to do with me, because I had a reputation as a ~Loose Cannon~. But Kodak's Secret Government Programs Skunky Works wanted me, specifically because I was a loose cannon! Some kinda lesson in that... If you truly want to do leading-edge research, nice-guy compliant yes-man is not what they are looking for. That worked out well, clear through to volitious retirement, on my terms.

 

Luck of the draw... but can't help but believe we also make our own luck?    Tom


  • Jon Isaacs, Paul Hyndman, doctordub and 7 others like this

#8 j.gardavsky

j.gardavsky

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,725
  • Joined: 18 Sep 2019
  • Loc: Germany

Posted 10 October 2020 - 03:35 PM

I don't think that Corning was scattered to the winds,

they are just manufacturing glass and ceramics for the best profit, https://www.corning....rldwide/en.html ,

leaving the glass materials we are using to the other manufacturers.

 

Best,

JG


  • Brent Campbell and LDW47 like this

#9 SilverLitz

SilverLitz

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,176
  • Joined: 17 Feb 2018
  • Loc: Louisville, KY

Posted 10 October 2020 - 03:37 PM

True, but when I spend my $$$ locally, my community benefits from it, and as a result I too will benefit indirectly. For that reason, whenever possible, I try to buy as locally as possible. But of course, there are exceptions, as the APM in my signature demonstrates.

BUT, if your company does not buy its material economically, it ceases to exist, losing to more economically competitors, and ALL local jobs go extinct.  Adam Smith is right!

 

The key is probably that US does NOT have customers of this high cost material, while Japan has Canon, Nikon, Pentax, ...  There could also be regulatory cost differences and litigious nature of the US.

 

Optical glass is not a existential, strategic product.


Edited by SilverLitz, 10 October 2020 - 03:42 PM.

  • Live_Steam_Mad likes this

#10 Bowlerhat

Bowlerhat

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 730
  • Joined: 05 Jun 2019
  • Loc: Melbourne, Australia

Posted 10 October 2020 - 03:53 PM

Japan market is tilted more towards refractors, where good glass is in demand, Where US market shifted towards SCT with mirrors, especially after the dobsonian boom.



#11 Astrojensen

Astrojensen

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 13,371
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2008
  • Loc: Bornholm, Denmark

Posted 10 October 2020 - 04:30 PM

Optical glass is not a existential, strategic product.

Really? Let's say the US found itself cut off by military blockade from the rest of the world, like in WW2. No optical glass from Germany, Japan, Russia or China. Where is the optical glass for all the binoculars, submarine periscopes, drone cameras, spyplanes, spy satellites, rifle scopes, laser range finders, night vision goggles, jet fighter HUDs, smart ordinance, and all other things optical the defence is going to need, going to come from? 

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark


  • Rollo, Neptune, Phil Cowell and 4 others like this

#12 PXR-5

PXR-5

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 45,738
  • Joined: 28 Mar 2008
  • Loc: Lower Earth Orbit

Posted 10 October 2020 - 04:31 PM

Bet the guys that sold that platinum got some good bonuses ;)
  • JoeBftsplk, Astrojensen and mrsjeff like this

#13 Alan French

Alan French

    Night Owl

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,041
  • Joined: 28 Jan 2005
  • Loc: Upstate NY

Posted 10 October 2020 - 04:45 PM

Really? Let's say the US found itself cut off by military blockade from the rest of the world, like in WW2. No optical glass from Germany, Japan, Russia or China. Where is the optical glass for all the binoculars, submarine periscopes, drone cameras, spyplanes, spy satellites, rifle scopes, laser range finders, night vision goggles, jet fighter HUDs, smart ordinance, and all other things optical the defence is going to need, going to come from? 

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark

A lot of U.S. amateur astronomers have nice ED blanks in "stock" in equipment on hand....

 

"Contribute your telescope to the defense of our nation!"

 

Clear skies, Alan


  • Astrojensen and Brent Campbell like this

#14 BillP

BillP

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 20,507
  • Joined: 26 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Spotsylvania, VA

Posted 10 October 2020 - 05:52 PM

A lot of U.S. amateur astronomers have nice ED blanks in "stock" in equipment on hand....

 

"Contribute your telescope to the defense of our nation!"

 

Yup...time for legislation requiring national registration of optical equipment in the hands of the peoples so the government knows where you are and what you have if they need to take your optics for national needs! 
 

https://www.trtworld...-minerals-40334

 

https://www.osa-opn....ptics_industry/


Edited by BillP, 10 October 2020 - 06:10 PM.

  • germana1 likes this

#15 NYJohn S

NYJohn S

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,399
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2016
  • Loc: Northport, NY

Posted 10 October 2020 - 06:24 PM

Kodak is gone because they couldn’t replace the cash cow film was for them.
  • doctordub, Rollo, JoeBftsplk and 3 others like this

#16 Alan French

Alan French

    Night Owl

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,041
  • Joined: 28 Jan 2005
  • Loc: Upstate NY

Posted 10 October 2020 - 06:32 PM

Kodak is gone because they couldn’t replace the cash cow film was for them.

You could argue Kodak missed their opportunity to lead the digital revolution....

 

https://lens.blogs.n...digital-moment/

 

Clear skies, Alan


  • Calypte, JoeBftsplk, mich_al and 3 others like this

#17 Spikey131

Spikey131

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,677
  • Joined: 07 Feb 2017

Posted 10 October 2020 - 07:50 PM

“Where there is no vision, the people perish”, Prov. 29:18


  • Rollo, Neptune, Astrojensen and 4 others like this

#18 TOMDEY

TOMDEY

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,714
  • Joined: 10 Feb 2014
  • Loc: Springwater, NY

Posted 10 October 2020 - 08:09 PM

Kodak is gone because they couldn’t replace the cash cow film was for them.

You could argue Kodak missed their opportunity to lead the digital revolution....

https://lens.blogs.n...digital-moment/

Clear skies, Alan

I worked there at the time and the irony is that their sensor chips were supersuperlative for the longest time, and highly-coveted by scientists and professionals who wanted only the premium best. But somehow, they just couldn't compete on the huge volume commercial markets. And yes, not only did they unrealistically cling to their film, but that they actually told all the employees (by corporate directive) that they were to do everything in their power to promote and advance the film markets... that the potential of film was vastly more than had already been achieved.

 

I'm convinced that it was the chemists who had gotten promoted, over dedicated decades of being entrenched in exactly one technology... hanging on by their finger nails, as their buggy whips dissolved into blessed obsolescence. In that sense... ~Kodak was too loyal~ allowing execs who would have been put out to pasture years earlier... to still call the shots.

 

Us guys on Government Contracts were relieved to be still cruising along, substantially insulated from the Corp conniptions. We changed hands from Kodak to ITT to Excelis, to Harris to L3/Harris... and still happily fulfilling contracts through it all.    Tom


  • JoeBftsplk and sanbai like this

#19 Andrew Brown

Andrew Brown

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 249
  • Joined: 18 May 2020
  • Loc: 56.4451° N, 3.1670° W

Posted 10 October 2020 - 08:10 PM

Like most things, It's cheaper (and easier) to just "order in" from outside North America.

It's highly possible that the same glass produced locally would actually cost more.

And the problem with that is what?

Seriously a lot of people need to wake up.

If [say] China removes Taiwan from the global equation where's your smart phones [sic] going to come from.The same place as your pandemic?? Get real.


Edited by Andrew Brown, 10 October 2020 - 08:12 PM.


#20 Paul Hyndman

Paul Hyndman

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,257
  • Joined: 13 Jul 2004
  • Loc: Connecticut Shoreline USA

Posted 10 October 2020 - 08:37 PM

Do I recall correctly that Kodak once provided CCD conversions for other cameras?



#21 junomike

junomike

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 19,872
  • Joined: 07 Sep 2009
  • Loc: Ontario

Posted 10 October 2020 - 09:09 PM

And the problem with that is what?

Seriously a lot of people need to wake up.

If [say] China removes Taiwan from the global equation where's your smart phones [sic] going to come from.The same place as your pandemic?? Get real.

Andrew, not sure if your reply was tongue and cheek or not.

Either way, the issue is that the last few Generations have been "spoiled" by the cheap influx of good from China and other less expensive Countries. These Generations (I included) would have a hard time going back to buying local as you'd only get 1/4th (or less) for the same cost.

 

It could be done but are people willing to give up how far the Dollar goes to do it?    From what I see in N.America the answer is no.


  • peta62 and 25585 like this

#22 NYJohn S

NYJohn S

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,399
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2016
  • Loc: Northport, NY

Posted 10 October 2020 - 09:10 PM

They came out with the DCS camera which was a Kodak sensor / Nikon camera hybrid. That was one of the first digital cameras used by photo journalists. They later came out with a Canon version. They made some very good professional sensors. I still have and use a Phase One back with a Kodak sensor. It’s still better than anything currently offered by Canon or Nikon. I know some of their sensors were used in CCD astrophotography cameras. I think their problem was they realized as digital cameras improved it would undermine and eliminate their film and print business so their initial efforts were as if they had one hand behind their back.

Edited by NYJohn S, 10 October 2020 - 09:57 PM.

  • Paul Hyndman and JoeBftsplk like this

#23 Jeff Morgan

Jeff Morgan

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 12,341
  • Joined: 28 Sep 2003
  • Loc: Prescott, AZ

Posted 10 October 2020 - 09:51 PM

The key is probably that US does NOT have customers of this high cost material, while Japan has Canon, Nikon, Pentax, ...  There could also be regulatory cost differences and litigious nature of the US.

 

Wow, this got into the philosophical territory fast. 

 

With all this talk about Adam Smith (IMHO, a mind on par with contemporary Issac Newton) I wondered if someone would key in on this ...

 

Namely, a distortion in the market caused by government regulation. Not in in glass - but in a critical material required to make high quality glass. Namely, platinum. 

 

If (and I have not researched this) new cars in Germany and Japan also required catalytic converters (thereby creating an artificial distortion in the market for already expensive platinum), then all things are still equal.

 

If not, it could be an excellent example of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

 

Assuming similar "platinum drains" in Germany and Japan, there are two thoughts that come to mind

 

1) Corning being a larger and more diverse conglomerate may have had opportunities to put that capital (the value of the platinum) to uses Schott and OHara did not; and 

 

2) As mentioned, the market for this glass is exceptionally small. The driving force may have been a business decision not to pursue something so ... small. Sure it could happen. Consider that Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Zeiss, and Leica really just dabble in astronomy in a very small way. A business decision.

 

While it may be fun to crucify the American glass companies as "short sighted" by not producing glass for our high-end astronomy equipment, consider this: Ziess, Leica, Nikon, and Canon pretty much ignore astronomy also. It is just a happy accident that niche companies can get this glass at all to use for astronomy products.

 

Or put another way even for the the top German and Japanese glass makers, Military (strategic defense) and Commercial (money making) ventures carry the freight that makes all of the astronomy glass even possible.


Edited by Jeff Morgan, 10 October 2020 - 09:52 PM.

  • doctordub, SandyHouTex and j.gardavsky like this

#24 alan.dang

alan.dang

    Mariner 2

  • *****
  • Posts: 278
  • Joined: 15 Dec 2011

Posted 10 October 2020 - 09:53 PM

Really? Let's say the US found itself cut off by military blockade from the rest of the world, like in WW2. No optical glass from Germany, Japan, Russia or China. Where is the optical glass for all the binoculars, submarine periscopes, drone cameras, spyplanes, spy satellites, rifle scopes, laser range finders, night vision goggles, jet fighter HUDs, smart ordinance, and all other things optical the defence is going to need, going to come from?


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


I think what Rolando hinted at was that US glass production is only for those types of ultra high end activities.

Remember, Raytheon owns ELCAN. All of Leica’s glass knowledge is there. It’s still in Canada, but the IP lives in the US now.

Cumberland Optics/Questar have been making advanced surveillance optics since the Gemini program.

L3Harris is where Kodak’s aerospace imaging went.
https://rochesterbea...kodaks-progeny/

https://www2.l3t.com...roducts/abl.htm

We can buy L3/Harris technology in astro-night vision and buy Questars.
  • j.gardavsky likes this

#25 Jon Isaacs

Jon Isaacs

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 87,440
  • Joined: 16 Jun 2004
  • Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA

Posted 11 October 2020 - 12:03 AM

Japan market is tilted more towards refractors, where good glass is in demand, Where US market shifted towards SCT with mirrors, especially after the dobsonian boom.

 

ED glass has nothing to do with telescopes, it's all about camera lenses.  The telescope market takes advantage of the ED glass developed for the lenses but is a tiny market.

 

Jon


  • doctordub, Live_Steam_Mad, gnowellsct and 1 other like this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics