The History of Materion Innovation

Inspiration Ignited Our Legacy

In the 1920s, few outside of the scientific community knew much about beryllium. Yet, its unrivaled properties – lightweight, high strength, non-magnetic properties – 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.

1930s - 1950s

Harnessing the Magic

 
1931

Capitalized with $500, Brush Beryllium Company was incorporated on January 9, 1931 in Cleveland, Ohio.

1933

With the first sale of beryllium oxide materials for use in radio tubes and other applications, the company recorded sales of $12,241.

1934

The first sale of copper beryllium was made to the American Brass Company.

1935

Production moves to Lorain, Ohio.

1936

Sales of copper beryllium grow to $65,000; Sales of copper beryllium enabled Brush to work on perfecting production of pure beryllium.

1939

The US government took an interest in beryllium for its top secret defense efforts.

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. 

Impact of the Atomic Age

 
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.

1960s - 1980s

Exploring New Frontiers

 

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 into 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.

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.

1971

Brush Beryllium makes its first major acquisition and purchases Wellman division of Abex Corp. (producer of friction materials) and forms S.K. Wellman; Shareholders vote to change the Brush Beryllium name to Brush Wellman.

1972

Brush listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

1974

Automakers in North America, Europe and Japan begin using beryllia ceramics in electronic ignition systems which led to a 20% improvement in vehicle fuel economy.  

Miniaturization is 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.

1990s - 2010s

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.

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

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.

2011

Materion acquires Shanghai-based EIS Optics. On March 8, 2011, Brush Engineered Materials Inc. became Materion Corporation, unifying all of the Company’s businesses under the Materion name. Shares begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the new symbol: MTRN.

2012

Materion acquired Aerospace Metal Composites Limited (AMC) of Farnborough, England.

2017

Materion acquired the target materials business of the Heraeus Group, of Hanau, Germany.

2020s - Today

Advanced Materials Focus

 

2021

Materion acquired the Electronic Materials business of H.C. Starck Solutions in Newton, MA., creating a global leader in premium thin-film materials for the semiconductor market.

2022

Materion celebrates 50 years on the NYSE; Becomes top 10% of longest-listed companies. 

2023

Materion strengthens foothold in the commercial space market with new orders for materials that go into space propulsion systems. 

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