The 1960s brought significant changes for Ipsen, including the expansion of the Cherry Valley plant with an addition for engineering, sales, and service personnel.
In 1960, Ipsen also began manufacturing vacuum furnaces, which were primarily used in aircraft and rocket production. A refractory metals department opened in Rockford the following year, focused on ceramic, metallurgical, and electrical research.
By 1962, Ipsen Ceramics was producing materials used by the government for nuclear energy and aviation.
Developments continued in 1963 as Ipsen introduced the first top loading vacuum furnace, and Ipsenlab relocated to a larger, 18,000-square-foot facility on the campus near Cherry Valley.
That year, the company received a $50,000 contract from NASA to explore the use of foamed metal in spacecraft.
Sadly, Harold Ipsen was killed at age 49 when an airplane he was flying crashed at the Greater Rockford Airport on April 29, 1965. Charles Brunstetter, Ipsen’s Special Projects Division Manager was also killed. Ipsen held more than 30 patents during his life and left a permanent mark on both his company and the larger furnace industry. Following his death, Ipsen’s widow, Lorraine was named president and director.
In June 1966 when Ipsen Industries and all of its subsidiaries were acquired by Pennsylvania-based Alco Standard Corporation, Lorraine Ipsen was made an honorary director. That year, Ipsen introduced the first bottom loading vacuum furnace.
By 1967, continued expansion of the Ipsen plant had more than doubled its productive capacity. Developments continued the following year with the introduction of the MetalMaster vacuum furnace and the Vacuum Oil Quench Furnace. The Ipsen Ceramics plant ended the decade by installing two roller hearth kilns designed by Harold Ipsen.
In 1970, with approximately 500 employees and furnaces getting increasingly larger, Ipsen once again expanded its main plant with a $300,000, 20,000 square-foot addition. This was the fourth major expansion since 1960.
In 1973, Ipsen introduced a batch aluminum brazing furnace, as well as a continuous vacuum diffusion bonding furnace. Other new product launches included an automated atmosphere furnace line in 1975, and the first ion nitriding furnace in 1976.
Ipsen ended the decade by expanding its manufacturing plant again in 1978. The expansion provided the company with more office space, as well as expanded and modernized facilities for research and development. That same year, the company unveiled the first continuous vacuum aluminum brazing furnace.
In the 1980s, despite being in an economic recession, Ipsen continued its expansion across the U.S. In April 1981, Ipsen acquired manufacturing plants in Alabama and Tennessee. At this time, the company had nine sales offices throughout the United States, as well as five licensees in other countries. Ipsen continued to introduce new products during the early 1980s including a five-bar vacuum furnace in 1982 (above) and the I/O 3000 atmosphere furnace in 1983 (right). In 1985, Ipsen merged with its once competitor, Abar to become Abar Ipsen Industries.
Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol.72. St. James Press, 2005.
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