As part of the H.C. Starck Solutions 100 years of refractory metals celebration, we are reflecting on the history of local plants and facilities that helped build our global prestige. Chief among these is our award-winning headquarters based in Newton, Massachusetts. From a small vacuum processing company based in Cambridge, MA to the HQ of one of the largest refractory metals suppliers in the world, this blog post will share the story of the Newton facility from its humble beginnings.

A Brief History of the Newton Plant

The Newton plant traces its success back to 1940 when Richard Morse and William Coolidge founded the National Research Corporation (NRC) in Cambridge, MA. NRC offered a portfolio unlike the refractory metals and powders offered by H.C. Starck at the time.

NRC focussed on vacuum processes for various applications such as lens coatings, frozen orange juice concentrate, and holiday instant coffee, alongside vacuum equipment manufacturing. It was not until 1957 that NRC entered the refractory metals market by offering tantalum powder, subsequently earning a patent for the process.

During the early 1960s, NRC’s refractory metals division experienced dramatic growth which enabled them to purchase the Newton site. These achievements brought NRC to the attention of Norton Company, who purchased NRC in 1963 before floating on the New York Stock Exchange shortly afterward as a public company. Norton Company went on to buy a portfolio of semiconductor companies to diversify its refractory metals portfolio – which comprised tantalum and niobium (Nb) at that point.

After a decade of success, Norton Company began to divest various divisions. In 1975, H.C. Starck acquired 50% of Norton’s refractory metals division. It took eleven years and the purchase of H.C. Starck by Bayer AG before the remaining 50% was acquired. NRC’s prestigious refractory metals division was folded into a new fabricated product division; today known as H.C. Starck Solutions.

Our Newton Plant’s Recent Successes

By 1990, H.C. Starck Solutions’ Newton plant produced powder, wire, and various refractory metals products. These metallurgical goods were typically flat products like foils, plates, sheets, and fabricated parts like hot zones. Our capabilities expanded again at the turn of the century when we began to develop tantalum for semiconductor applications. A selection of these include:

  • NRC00: Our first semiconductor-focused flat product which is still available today
  • NRC04/04: Enhanced flat product introduced in 2004 for greater texture control
  • LX: A proprietary metallurgical-grade powder and plates made therefrom
  • NRC08: Innovative texture controlled product introduced in 2008
  • NRC016: H.C. Starck Solutions’ most uniformly textured, commercially available, Ta product to-date
  • NRC20: Aimed toward sub 10nm node sizes and due to release in 2020

Today, the Newton plant manufactures a variety of tantalum and niobium products for industries such as aerospace and defense, chemical processing, electronics, semiconductors, superconductors, and more. With advanced melting/refining capabilities and a suite of metalworking equipment, we are confident in the specification of our goods, even for demanding market segments.

H.C. Starck Solutions’ Newton plant was recognized for our efficiency and quality production processes in 2010, following a concerted effort to adopt lean manufacturing processes. By reorganizing our refractory metals manufacturing chain, we reduced waste throughout the product flow. As a result, we were awarded the 2014 “Best Plant” award from Industry Week. We continue to strive for excellence at the Newton plant as we move into a new century for the business at large. If you have any questions about our 100 Years of Refractory Metals Expertise celebration, or would like to speak to a sales representative about any of the information covered in this post, simply contact a member of the H.C. Starck Solutions team today.