The Glass Race

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The Glass Race

It’s relatively easy for our purchaser, Dan McCauley, to order the thousands of parts needed to build a PS Audio product. If you look at one of our BOMs (Bills of Materials) the list is eye-crossing long: screws, nuts, resistors, chips, insulators, feet, displays, silicon, etc., etc.

It’s hard enough to visualize all the bits and bobs that go into a product, but it’s even harder to work your way back through their sourcing. Just imagine the chain of events that has to happen to make something as simple as a screw—from the mining and smelting of the ore into stainless steel to the machining and inspecting of every part, to the stocking and delivering it to us. And that’s just a screw. Imagine what it must take to produce a several million gate FPGA from the sand used to grow the silicon crystal.

It’s truly mind-boggling, though easy enough to take for granted. That complex chain has long been established and the industries that support it have been humming along for eons.

Now imagine what it must be like to be a part of the race to save our lives. The pandemic’s crush won’t fully go away until the arrival of a vaccine. And while we’re all in awe of how quickly scientists have designed one, it’s not going to do anyone any good unless it can be delivered around the world.

The supply chain.

I was fascinated by an article in the December issue of the New Yorker magazine. The race to make glass vials for the Coronavirus vaccine.

The article details one small critical step in one of the most massive undertakings in our history. Making the billions of specialized glass vials to contain the vaccine.

The vials are not off-the-shelf glass. Standard medical vials—made of borosilicate—often break as they’re filled, and just one damaged vial can ruin a batch of doses and stop a production line.

Photographer Christopher Payne details through this brilliant piece of photojournalism the rush to develop a new type of glass vial called Valor-Glass.

It’s a beautifully photographed essay and one worth your time and nerdiness to read.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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