Cool Stuff Being Made: Kopp Glass

By May 5, 2007Cool Stuff Being Made

koppabout_main.jpgWe’ve spent a fair amount of space on this site marking the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown because the settlement also marks the beginning of factory manufacturing in what would become the United States. Abundant access to the raw materials — wood for charcoal and sand — made the location a promising site for glass production.

So a year after the London Company — the financial backers of the venture — set up shop in Jamestown, German and Polish artisans began manufacturer of glass products for shipment back home to England. (Trade!) A description of the business and its successors can be found here.

Flash forward four centuries later and travel several hundred miles to the north, and today we find the operations of Kopp Glass of Swissvale, Penn., this week’s feature on “Cool Stuff Being Made.” Our friends at PCN provide an hour-long video tour of the company’s operations guided by Hugh Reed, Kopp’s technical services director.

Kopp describes itself as the “leader in the manufacture of molded/pressed, blown, precision, and filter glass for technical, industrial, and commercial applications.” That’s right: The basic manufacturing process remains the same as 400 years ago — blowing — but in today’s high-tech operations, machinery handles the blowing with metal molds. And modern day applications go far beyond bottles or windows; Kopp manufacturers products found in airports, aircraft, medical, military (night vision & covert), railroad & traffic signals, filters, architectural, theatrical, technical and other industrial applications. Kopp’s workers are highly skilled, making both custom and stock products.

So to see what the foundation of manufacturing 400 years ago has led to, please click here to watch this week’s Cool Stuff Being Made video.