Corning Incorporated recently celebrated 50 years of manufacturing and innovation at its facility on County Route 16 in Canton, N.Y.
The legacy of making some of the world’s purest glass has helped create a host of new business opportunities in both the semiconductor and consumer electronics industries, Corning executives said Thursday at an anniversary ceremony at the facility.
“When we look back on all the tremendous things this plant has done – all the discoveries it has enabled and all the strong relationships it has forged – we realize what a solid foundation you have built for the future,” said Curt Weinstein, vice president and general manager of Corning’s Advanced Optics organization. “So it’s not an exaggeration to say that, here at Canton we’re just getting started.”
Also addressing the group of employees, community leaders, and lawmakers were: James Steiner, senior vice president, Corning Specialty Materials; David Lucht, Canton plant manager; Larry Sutton, Canton plant commercial manager; and New York State Sen. Patricia Ritchie.
The plant started operations in 1966, making mirror blanks for telescopes and other optics applications. As business grew over the years, the plant expanded to 265,000 square feet, more than double its original size.
The plant makes some of the world’s purest glass by leveraging its expertise in glass science and utilizing a manufacturing capability called chemical vapor deposition – a high-temperature process that deposits layer after layer of tiny glass particles on a growing surface, rather than cooling a molten liquid.
Using this process, the plant has become a world leader in production of high-purity fused silica (HPFS®) and ultra-low expansion (ULE®) glass materials. High-profile products from Canton over the years have included mirror blanks for the Subaru Telescope, two Gemini telescopes, and the Discovery Channel Telescope. The plant also manufactured the spacecraft windows for every manned U.S. space flight from Mercury through the Space Shuttle program.
Today, the plant also provides materials to both the semiconductor and display-optics industries. Expertise in this field has led to significant new opportunities for the next phase of the plant’s history, Weinstein said.
Working closely with a longtime semiconductor equipment customer, Corning has developed a highly pure and thermally stable glass for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) photolithography applications. The material is used as a mirror in stepper machines that write nanoscale features on computer chips.
“Those are just two of the very exciting developments that will carry this plant into its next 50 years,” Weinstein said. “And we have these opportunities because of the hard work, dedication, and technical skill of the people who work here.”
Plant Manager Dave Lucht also praised the plant workforce, noting the strong relationship with United Steel Workers Local 1026. Local economic development organizations and universities have also played a role in the plant’s development, he added. SUNY Canton, for example, worked with Corning to develop a specialized glass machinist program intended to cultivate specialized skills required for Corning’s Canton operations.
Steiner congratulated the workforce on its proven capability to create highly technical glass.
“Nobody in the world makes what the Canton team makes,” he said. “The people of this plant have such a deep pride in their work and in every single thing they manufacture. No matter what the challenge, I always have faith that the Canton team is up to the task.”