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IRD Glass Celebrates MFG Day and Month 2014

October 28, 2014

According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), 2014 has been a great year for manufacturing. As of September, the U.S. manufacturing sector had expanded for the 16th consecutive month.[1] The timing of this news could not be any better because it just so happens that we celebrated National Manufacturing Day and Month in October.

MFG Day, now in its 3rd year, is a salute to everything “Made in America” and is an opportunity for our industry to define the true image of manufacturing. Co-produced by a number of different organizations including FMA, NAM, and MEP, Manufacturing Day, which kicked off Manufacturing Month on October 3rd, featured a wide variety of tours, open houses, and educational seminars. These events are meant to show local community members, especially high-school students who will soon be entering the workforce, what American manufacturing is and what it is not.

Glass componentsAt IRD Glass, we truly believe that nothing is more important to our future of the industry than getting the younger generations interested in careers in manufacturing. It is no secret that there is a skilled labor shortage in the U.S.[2] The key to turning this deficit into a surplus is encouraging today’s students to gain the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills necessary to compete in the 21st century. It is also important to show these students that modern manufacturing is more about technology and creative problem solving than the old stereotype of repetitive physical work.

While Manufacturing Day and Month are a great time to show off our strengthening manufacturing sector, it is really more about how it is critical that we plan for an even stronger future.




IRD Glass Named Supplier of the Year by Honeywell!

September 17, 2014

IRD Glass is the proud recipient of the prestigious 2013 Supplier of the Year award from Honeywell. To earn this award, factors such as on-time delivery, quality, service, and order volume size for the previous two consecutive years are compiled and compared among the hundreds of Honeywell suppliers. Honeywell expressed their extreme appreciation to IRD’s dedicated team and all the hard work they have contributed, which resulted in multiple process improvements. Some of these improvements include: adding custom automation to reduce cost, improving polish effectiveness to improve yield, investing in new inspection equipment, and always being available for any issues that may arise.

IRD Glass has maintained a zero parts per million (PPM) defect rate over the last two years, as well as a 98+ percent on-time delivery rate. Honeywell frequently holds IRD Glass up to other vendors as the model supplier, due to our high level of service and detailed communication practices.

IRD has been supplying Honeywell with precision glass tubes and pedestal mounts for extremely sensitive and accurate sensors for over 20 years. Their sensors are used in the aerospace industry to measure altitude, speed, air pressure, and other critical statistics. There is a 98% chance that at least one of these sensors was a key component to your last safe flight!

For over 33 years, the innovative and groundbreaking team at IRD Glass has done things that virtually no one else has with glass. Dedication to their customers, their quality and delivery, and ability to consistently improve processes have enabled IRD to remain a sole-source supplier to numerous world class companies, including Honeywell, 3M, Trumpf, L3, Alcon, Rockwell Collins, TDK, and more. IRD Glass provides a complete line of custom optic manufacturing capabilities, such as laser reflectors and mirrors, prisms, precision windows, precision tubes, optical filters, precision machining, and much more. IRD works with optical glass, filter glass, ceramics, sapphire, and IR materials.

IRD Glass is constantly striving to improve their partnerships, whether through technology advancements or old-fashioned customer service. IRD thanks Honeywell for recognizing them as a valued partner.

Glass Components Filtered for the Medical Industry

April 28, 2014

When it comes to the medical industry, there are many new technologies and components that are transforming the way it works. For example, there are now many non-intrusive devices being developed that can now detect a variety of different conditions that were once only detected through blood samples and extensive testing. Our filter glass can be used for these applications, including sterilization, verification of sterilization, and non-intrusive blood tests.

In terms of manufacturing the filter glass for the medical industry, we must look at the applications in order to determine the best process. For example, different types of glass react differently to slurries and compounds. Some are highly reactive to moisture, while some are very sensitive to acidic environments. There are some types of glass that are brittle and prone to fracturing, while others are soft and scratch easily. The key for us, then, is to examine the end use of the glass so we can determine the best materials, coatings, and specifications to use, always with keeping in mind the most desirable cost or degree of difficulty.

We are excited to be able to serve the medical industry, and we believe there will be a strong push towards miniaturization of components and creating a “lab on a chip” where diagnostics can be performed in the field. As a company that serves the medical industry, we are looking forward to seeing how it progresses—and how our filter glass can help!

IRD and the World of Aerospace and Defense

March 18, 2014

When it comes to markets, almost nothing is as large as the aerospace and defense sector. According to the experts at PwC, in 2012 the top 100 aerospace and defense companies made a whopping $695 billion in revenue and $59.8 billion in operating profit. Servicing this market can no doubt be a major challenge. As a leader in the precision glass and optical component sector, IRD has been working since day one with all the top names in A&D, including Lockheed Martin, Honeywell, Rockwell Collins, and Goodrich. In fact, in many cases we are the sole source of a number of unique and critical components for the giants in A&D, including:

  • Navigational and Tactical Grade Ring-Laser Gyro Blocks
  • Solid State Laser Reflectors
  • Precision Tubes Used in Air Speed Indicators
  • Altimeters
  • Extreme Environment Pressure Sensors
  • Mirrors and NVIS Filters

One the biggest challenges in working within the A&D sector is staying within the tight tolerances that such exacting equipment demands. We do this by relying heavily on our dedicated workforce and with process improvement tools like Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, SS, DOE, and others. It also helps that in recent years we have invested in high-end metrology and in-process inspection systems that enable us to meet or exceed the unbelievably rigorous demands of the A&D industry. To top all of this off, IRD is also proud to be compliant with AS9100 standards.

As we mentioned before, none of this is possible without a highly skilled and focused workforce at the heart of your operation. These people allow us to stay on our toes, always driving for excellence and pivoting with seemingly daily changes in modern A&D and infrared optics technology.

Manufacturing Optical Ceramics for Infrared Applications

May 31, 2013

For most people, “infrared technology” calls to mind the night vision goggles from classic spy movies, providing blurry heat signature images of enemy guards on nighttime patrol. In reality, the scope of infrared technology has expanded well past night vision goggles to encompass a broad spectrum of sophisticated applications. Today, sensors around ship ports use night vision technology to keep an eye out after dark. Satellites use infrared technology to look out further into space. And these advanced sensors have distance capabilities far surpassing those movie goggles that saw to the other end of the room. Current infrared equipment can peer out for miles into the dark.

Optical ceramic materials are used to create the lenses on these advanced cameras and sensors. Manufacturing optical ceramics is not the same as manufacturing glass. It requires the use of different slurries, different polishing pads and different processes. But it’s not a completely dissimilar process. You can think of optical ceramics as a second cousin to glass, rather than another species altogether. While the processes may differ, the specifications remain the same. Flatness and scratch dig are just as important in optical ceramics as they are in glass.

At the end of the day, whether a project calls for glass or optical ceramics, it all comes back to manufacturing components for advanced cameras and sensors. Infrared technology simply provides a new avenue tried and true skills.

Increasing Profitability – Precision Glass Tubes

March 29, 2013

IRD Ceramic Glass TubesIn our last blog we talked about our expertise in improving the profitability of your glass project. In this post we’d like to take a closer look at two such projects, both involving precision glass tubes. One of our partners manufactures a highly sensitive pressure sensor. Their sensor utilizes a glass tube with a Wheatstone bridge silicon die bonded to one end. The traditional tube polish supplied by their previous vendors didn’t exhibit a very good bond surface, resulting in a poor seal and a sensor that had poor repeatability. So when our partner was using glass tubes made by other manufacturers, they were only achieving a final pass yield of ~70%.

When they brought the job to IRD Glass, we used our proprietary manufacturing process, resulting in a final pass yield of 99.5%. Even though the IRD Glass process included a minimal price increase per part, it  achieved a very large net overall cost savings. The bonds can only be tested at the completed sensor assembly stage. If they failed, the entire sensor had to be scrapped, including the header, glass tube, silicon die, and assembly labor. The money saved on assembly time, component waste and customer satisfaction covered the price increase a thousand fold, significantly increasing bottom line profit.

On a similar project, a customer of IRD’s was putting a rubber sealing gasket over the end of a glass tube. They were having trouble with the tube edges, continually cutting or tearing the rubber gasket. IRD Glass provided a superior non-bond end finish eliminating the gasket issue, while at the same time resulting in a better bond end for the sealing of their pressure sensor onto the glass mount component. Because of our extensive capabilities we were able to do that at the same price that they were paying before. The cost stayed the same, and the finished product improved with, yet again, a significant increase to the bottom line.

These types of cost saving improvements are the norm, not the exception, and they’re the type of results we, at IRD Glass, love to provide for our customers.

Increasing the Profitability of Your Glass Project

February 13, 2013

We’re glass experts here at IRD. That means we don’t just manufacture a quality product, we have a quality process behind it that increases your profitability. When you work with us we attempt to understand  your entire manufacturing process, where our product fits in, what you’ve been missing from other suppliers and what we can do to more completely fulfill your needs.

Before we begin your project, we want to fully understand the many facets of your project design, asking questions about specifications, tolerances, finishes, packaging, inventory control, point of use considerations and anything else that may impact the cost of your project.  Answers to these questions help streamline the manufacturing process, and allow us to offer suggestions for cost and time saving improvements.

We back up this attention to detail on the front-end with our unique cell-based processing system on the back end. At any one time there are three to five teams of highly trained operators working on projects focusing on continuous improvement. These include projects designed to reduce cycle time, reduce variation, and eliminate defects and waste. Operators are trained in specific techniques including LEAN, DOE, and 6 Sigma. This training is coupled with years of experience in glass manufacturing. During manufacturing, IRD Glass operators are building quality into each operation, allowing us to control quality rather than simply inspect it.

At IRD Glass we’ll work to optimize your glass project, not just complete it. This results in a profitable glass solution of the highest quality.  Guaranteed.

Turning Up the Heat on Infrared

January 31, 2013

There are three types of light wavelengths: visible, UV and infrared (IR). Visible light is the light we can see. Anyone’s who’s ever suffered through a sunburn knows all too well about UV light. And infrared light is the light given off by heat. Both UV and infrared light wavelengths are invisible to the human eye. But that doesn’t mean they’re invisible. In fact, there are a variety of sophisticated devices that can “see” infrared light. Night vision goggles are probably the most recognizable application, but there are many more including satellites and sensors at sea ports that keep an eye out after dark.

Infrared devices don’t typically employ glass since it’s not a great material for transmitting infrared waves. But infrared sensors and cameras still need lenses, mirrors and other optics.  Even though the materials they’re made of are different, the optics typically have similar requirements as glass components—requirements we’re very adept at meeting. So while we need to make use of different slurries, different polish pads and different processes, we’re still meeting the same specifications for flatness, scratch/dig and other critical criteria for the lens.

IRD Glass’ interest in infrared applications was born out of regularly attending the SPIE Defense, Security + Sensing show. Companies familiar with our reputation kept asking us if we were open to working on components for infrared devices, and we had some new blood in our company that was more than ready to accept the challenge. In the past year, we have started our IR journey in earnest by investing heavily in IR specific equipment and process development time in order to create a process capable of producing a high quantity of high power laser quality 2” silicon mirrors at better than ½ wave flatness.

This is a new market for IRD Glass with a very familiar feel to it, and we’re excited to dive in.

Glass for Lasers

November 8, 2012

We provide glass for nearly every application here at IRD, but the laser industry is one of our biggest markets. Why do we have so many laser OEM clients? Because their applications often require unique custom glass components of the highest quality, and we have the capabilities to deliver on time, guaranteed.

High end laser systems call for unique optics that aren’t cookie-cutter, off the shelf products, and that’s our strength—unique features and tight tolerances. The only way to reduce the size of glass and to make cuts in glass is by chipping away at it—an extremely delicate process that makes achieving those tight tolerances no easy task.

One of our clients manufactures laser survey equipment. For their equipment, they needed a 360 degree lens. They searched globally for 12 months to find a company that could produce the product at the right price point, and they didn’t stop until they found IRD Glass. In order to accommodate the stringent specifications of the project, we constructed proprietary pieces of equipment to help with manufacturing. This isn’t a rare occurrence. When a project calls for something custom, we manufacture the equipment, fixturing and tooling needed to get the job done.

Using the highest quality tools and customizing them when necessary, we manufacture glass and ceramics for even the toughest laser applications.

An Interview with the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for IRD Glass

October 4, 2012

To kick things off here on our blog we sat down with Todd Anderson, the Vice President of sales and marketing for IRD Glass.

1)      What is a customer’s experience with IRD Glass, from your first conversation with them to when they walk away with their product?

Our goal is to service the heck out of our customers.  We get in contact with our customers and try and determine exactly what it is that they actually need.  Glass is a very unique product, and there are a lot of very smart people who just have never had to deal with glass.  We want to make sure that our customers have the absolute best overall solution.  It isn’t always the least expensive, but it is ALWAYS the best.  We examine the specifications that they really need, the materials, and how to best manufacture to these requirements at the lowest overall cost in dollars and in time.


2)      What are the steps of IRD’s manufacturing process?

We are a cell-based manufacturing company.  That means we have dedicated equipment, dedicated space and dedicated people working on either a specific product type, or a specific customer.  The cells handle every step of the process, from ordering material, to manufacture, to customer service, to shipping.


3)      Can you give me a general overview of the capabilities and coatings you offer?

We machine, saw, dice, grind, lap, polish, assemble, coat and inspect precision glass and ceramic components.  Everything we do is custom; we do not catalog anything.  Coatings run from the basic anti-reflective coating to very complex laser damage threshold multi-layer dielectric coatings.


4)      What are IRD Glass’ specialties?

We are extremely strong at taking on projects that most other glass shops pass over due to difficulty.  We excel at cylinder lenses and precision glass tubes as well.  We are sole-source for a number of global companies, including Honeywell, Trumpf, L3, Rockwell Collins, Alcon, 3M, and others.


5)      What are some of the industries and products you work with?

We service a very wide and often very shallow stream of markets.  We have customers in lasers, pressure transducers, sensors, inspection, defense, aerospace, security, vision systems, automotive, medical and more. Some examples of our products include laser components for laser OEM’s and precision pressure sensors using glass tubes.  We have been building ring-laser gyro bodies for Honeywell for almost 20 years.  These go into almost every commercial airliner in the world, as well as many other military and commercial vehicles and aircraft.


6)      What makes customers come back to IRD Glass?

We are glass experts.  We are celebrating 30 years of expertise this year.  We offer the industry’s only double guarantee!  We take personal responsibility and personal pride in everything we do.

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