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Glass so strong it stops bullets is coming from a newly-expanded plant in North Buffalo, courtesy of science and cheap electricity

surmetpress.jpg
Mike Desmond
/
WBFO News
New press at Surmet to make even stronger glass

Surmet’s Buffalo operations aren’t all that visible in a North Buffalo business park, flanked by a line of trees which obscures a very busy railroad line. Yesterday, it was much more visible because the company was having a ribbon cutting for a $14.5 million expansion.

That was being shown off by a massive, million-pound industrial press which takes mixes of materials put together by Surmet chemists and turns out glass, really strong glass. Uday Kashalikar is vice president of security products and applications. Kashalikar says it’s unique glass.

“Our glassware in this wider range of spectrum than glass and these combined properties lead to products such as transparent armor. So, in transparent armor, our products provide a 50% reduction in weight and thickness compared to bulletproof glass.”

That’s why the glass provides windows in combat helicopters, rocket nose cones into space and government uses the company doesn’t know. It’s high tech and highly secret. It requires lots of electricity to make the glass production work and that’s where Albany came in, promising 640 kilowatts of electricity from the Niagara Power Project.

That’s what Operations Director Santosh Jha was talking about among those who make the expansion possible.

“With the support from the U.S. government and new funding, we have been able to complete this expansion project and now we are here and the next step will be, we have the new customers, new orders so that we can use the this equipment to make the products and sell our customers.”

Surmet also promised to add 17 new workers over the next three to five years.

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Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.