CoorsTek – Engineered Ceramics

CoorsTek is a Colorado company established in 1910 by an Austrian immigrant John Herald, with financial backing by Adolf Coors, founder of Coors brewery. Originally, the Herald China and Pottery Company produced ceramic artware using clay mined near the Coors brewery in Golden, Colorado. At the request of the local Colorado School of Mines, the company developed and added a line of ceramic labware (porcelain mortars and pestles, crucibles, cups and dishes) for use in Chemistry labs.

Ceramic labware products produced by the company and displayed in the new design wing at the Denver Art Museum first attracted my attention to CoorsTek.

CoorsTek labware on display in the Denver Art Museum

Although produced for use in chemical laboratories, the objects have very pleasing aesthetic qualities, which explains why they are displayed in the museum’s design wing.

CoorsTek labware on display in the Denver Art Museum

John Herald left the company in 1915 and the son of Adolf Coors, Adolf Coors Jr. took over management of Herald China and Pottery Company. Renamed the Coors Porcelain Company in the 1920s, the company continued to produce lab and dinner ware products, at times using employees from Coors Brewery during the Prohibition era when the brewery ceased operating. Under the Coors USA trade name, the company sold over 300 types of high-quality scientific and analytical labware around the world.

CoorsTek labware on display in the Denver Art Museum

The Coors Porcelain Company thrived during the 1930s and 1940s under management of multiple Coors family members, investing heavily in R&D to develop technical ceramic products for use in industry and ultimately discontinuing its dinner ware and cookware product lines during WWII.

In the mid 1950s, the company developed technologies to bond ceramics to metals. Building on their R&D work with ceramics & metals, the Coors Porcelain Company also created the first recyclable aluminum can. It also expanded ceramic applications for various industries, capitalizing on the strength and wear resistance of ceramic materials. In 1965 Coors Porcelain began producing ceramic substrates for use in IBM’s mainframe computers, and a year later Coors Porcelain engineers produced lightweight ceramic armor components used by the military.

Coors Porcelain Company expanded over the years to develop new applications for ceramics, including pollution control equipment, integrated circuit packaging, thin-film substrates, transparent ceramics, and even golf putters and drivers. The company changed its name from Coors Porcelain to CoorsTek in 2000, and continues to produce highly engineered ceramic products that leverage the strength, toughness, fatigue resistance and thermal attributes of clay. Here are a few products that I found on the CoorsTek website that suggests the wide range of ceramic products the company manufactures.

Honestly, I have no idea what 90% of these products are or do. The headline take-away, however, is that clay has been highly engineered to take advantage of its innate properties & characteristics. Whether we realize it or not, we’re using engineered ceramic products every day in telecommunications, automotive and aircraft industries, and computer components.

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