ASME-Landmark:Owens AR Bottle Machine


Before mechanization, glass workers were blowing molten glass into metal molds. Increasing demand for bottles stimulated many attempts at automated bottle machines in Europe and the United States. Michael J. Owens (1859-1923) devised the first commercially successful, fully automatic bottle-making machine in 1903, financed by Edward D. Libbey (1854-1925) and executed with the aid of engineers William Boch, C. William Schwenzfeier, and Richard LaFrance.

The first commercial automatic bottle-making model in 1905, the "A," was refined over the course of nine years until the "AR" model was produced in 1912. With a less-limited range of design of molds and greater cooling facilities, the general-purpose "AR" had an average production of 50,400 bottles a day.

This machine allowed glass jars and bottles to be in cheap and plentiful supply for pharmaceuticals, household products, food and beverages, and an endless variety of uses. The bottle-making machine introduced the safety, standardization, quality, and convenience of glass containers.

Owens machines revolutionized the industry and ended child labor in glass-container plants. In 1913, the National Child Labor Committee of New York City said the rapid introduction of the automatic machine did more to eliminate child labor than the committee had been able to do through legislation.

The last two Owens machines in operation, the AQ, were operated at Gas City, Indiana, until December 17, 1982. The modern Owens-Illinois Glass Company is still in operation today. See ASME website for more information