Technology and Invention: Historical Milestones launches a new series by Rogers Corporation about the innovation, pioneering spirit, and transformative technologies that are creating a cleaner, safer, more connected world.
From Paperboard to Power Transformers
The 19th century was a time of great invention, from transportation to construction to communication. The early 1800’s saw the invention of the steam locomotive, the photograph, the electromagnet, the typewriter, the propeller, the telegraph, the blueprint, and mass production. These developments would soon have an indelible impact on the world.
The term “technology” first became part of the lexicon during the Industrial Revolution. Coined by Aristotle in 330BC, it found its way into the Encyclopedia Americana in 1832.
1832 also saw the founding of Rogers Corporation, a manufacturer of paperboard that would grow into a global developer and manufacturer of high performance materials. Founded in 1832, the company is now one of the ten oldest public corporations headquartered in the U.S.
In 1886, William Stanley and Westinghouse started a revolution with the first commercial AC power distribution system in North America. Great Barrington, Massachustts served as the battleground. While Stanley was building his AC system funded by Westinghouse, Edison Company had already installed a DC system in the same town. The residents of Great Barrington didn’t realize the historical significance of the technology; they were impressed just to have more electric lights.
As demand for power rose, manufacturers produced higher voltage transformers. But the electrical and physical stresses around the core and windings were intense. Around 1900, Rogers Corporation added a new product line: insulating paperboard for these electrical power transformers. Pressboard is a board made by compressing layers of paper together and drying them. It had been used during installation for many of the first electrical machines.
The need soon emerged for a higher density material that could insulate larger and higher voltage transformers. By the late 1920’s, a new type of pressboard was available. Unlike older methods of pressboard production, transformer board was not based on used paper or cotton waste, but was made with high-grade sulfate cellulose.
The new product was made purely out of cellulose without a resin or binder. This improved electrical insulation and could be completely dried, degassed, and oil impregnated. Throughout the 1930s, almost all insulating parts of transformers were replaced with parts made from transformer board.
By the 1930’s, Rogers’ principal product was transformer board. The company had also diversified into a variety of paperboard products for applications ranging from artificial leather to rail joints to tympana printing board.
Next: The plastics revolution.
Rogers Corporation provides innovative solutions for power electronics, advanced foams for cushioning and protective sealing, and high-frequency printed circuit materials. For over 180 years, we have developed new solutions to empower our customers’ breakthroughs and help them create a cleaner, safer, and more connected world.