General Electric

/General Electric
General Electric 2016-12-06T05:35:24+00:00

General Electric Company

The works established by Edison

The origins of the General Electric Company may be traced back to Thomas Edison who established the Electric Light Company in 1878.  A merger in 1892 of Edison General Electric Company and Thomson-Houston Electric Company created General Electric Company (GE).  Prior to 1910 electrical insulation products, based most likely on shellac or gutta percha, were manufactured.  From around 1910 onwards rapid growth in the development and applications of phenolic resin products, such as laminate sheet, provided impetus to rapidly growing markets.  Production of phenolic resins at the Pittsfield, Mass., works provided improved products such as Hercolite electrical transformer coil tubing from paper/phenolic powder combinations wound on to large diameter mandrels.

GE invested much resource into developing superior phenolic resins of controlled properties and from the late 1920s until around 1982 large quantities of solid and liquid resins were produced, many of specialised composition.

From 1930, when GE’s first plastics department was created, the growth of developments, manufacture and applications of existing and new plastics was dramatic.  Manufacturing in Pittsfield, Taunton, Mass., Connecticut and at River Works in Lynn, Mass., included around 1100 presses by 1946, mainly for thermosets such as high performance electrical grade laminate sheets, rods and tubes.

By 1949 GE Schenectady works contained more than 240 buildings for the manufacture of steam turbines, motors, generators, electrical wires, cables and equipment.  The chemical department had three manufacturing divisions which included the manufacture of insulating varnishes, glyptal (alkyd) resins for paints and insulating varnish cloths, as well as tapes for electrical and magnetic applications.

A milestone in major engineering plastic innovations occurred in 1953 when Dr Daniel Fox, who was searching for improved wire enamels, discovered polycarbonate resin which was launched as Lexan® polycarbonate in 1958

Further leading contributions followed from GE work in plastics to meet rapid growth in aerospace, medical, electrical and other key technology areas which made ever more demands on plastic properties.  For example, some materials with exceptional electrical properties based on styrene-divinylbenzene copolymers and unique phenolic types made continual contributions in many fields.

Following work by Allan S. Hay in 1956 polyphenylene oxide polymer (PPO) was produced and marketed in 1964 as Noryl® – modified PPO resin

As demands for high performance engineering grade applications grew further enhanced materials were introduced by GE.  Examples include extruded Lexan®  sheet for volume roofing, Ultem® high heat and environmental resistant electrical polymers. In 1984 North America’s first all plastic car bumper from thermoplastic Xenoy® was followed in 1988 by the acquisition of Borg Warner and ABS products.

Modern life and developments which serve it owe much to GE.  It remains a highly diversified, worldwide group, creating products such as aero engines, power generation, medical imaging and many other electrical and engineering fields, serving both industrial and domestic needs.  GE operates in over 100 countries and employs more than 300,000 people.  General Electric is unique in that it is the only Dow Jones Industrial Index company that was also included in the original 1896 index.