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


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


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


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


Production moves to Lorain, Ohio.


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


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

World War II Hits Home


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.


Headquarters and R&D moves to Perkins Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. Brush perfects powder metallurgy techniques to make pure beryllium over earlier cast form.


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.


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


The Atomic Energy Commission contracted with Brush to build a pure beryllium plant in Luckey, Ohio which the company brought on line in 1950.


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.


Annual sales quadrupled to $16 million by mid-decade, up from $3.6 million in 1950.


Brush goes public with stock offering


Brush purchases Penn Precision Products in Reading, Pennsylvania and enters the copper beryllium rolled products business


Beryllium was discovered to be the ideal material for heat shields on early space capsules.

1960s - 1980s

Exploring New Frontiers



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.


Brush Beryllium Company moves into its new headquarters, R&D facility and fabrication operation on St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio.


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.


Famous race car driver A.J. Foyt wins Indianapolis 500 with a set of “heat loving, weight saving” beryllium brakes from Brush materials.


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



Sales reach $40.9 million as Brush begins to target the auto industry and the mainframe computer industry for ceramics and copper-based alloys.


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.


Brush listed on the New York Stock Exchange.


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



Opens new beryllium ceramics facility in Tucson, Arizona.


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.


Acquires Technical Materials, Inc. in Lincoln, Rhode Island.


Acquires Williams Gold Refining Company in Buffalo, New York, later to be named Williams Advanced Materials Inc.


Electronic-related end-use markets had become the largest single customer sector for Brush.

1990s - 2010s

Change in Focus



Brush Wellman acquired Electrofusion Corporation in Fremont, California.


Brush Wellman Singapore (Pte) Ltd. was formed to provide local service and distribution in Southeast Asia.


Brush announces plans to invest $120 million for its Elmore Expansion Project , its largest capital investment ever.


New $10 million Brush Engineered Bronze facility opens in Lorain, Ohio.


Williams Advanced Materials acquires PureTech Inc., in Brewster, New York.

Building for the Future



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.


Established additional distribution, service and sales organizations in Asia to serve that growing market.


Brush refinances debt and issues offering of common stock.


Brush delivered optical grade beryllium mirror blanks to Northrop Grumman Space Technology for the primary mirror for NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope.


Williams acquires OMC Scientific Holdings in Ireland, and Thin Film Technology, Inc. in Buellton, California.


Williams acquires CERAC, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
– Brush reaches 75th anniversary on January 9.


Williams acquired Techni-Met in Windsor, Connecticut.


Williams acquired Barr Associates Inc. in Westford, Massachusetts and Academy Corporation in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Becoming One Company



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.


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.


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


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

2020s - Today

Advanced Materials Focus



Materion acquired Optics Balzers, maker of thin-film optical coatings.  


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.


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


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

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