Skip to main content

Safety Glass Pioneer Norman Nitschke Dies at 100

Norman Nitschke, a leader in developing safety glass fabrication processes and standards, died on Feb. 14 at the age of 100 at his home in Perrysburg, Ohio. In his decades-long career in glass, Nitschke was instrumental in advancing glass fabrication technologies, in particular glass tempering for the automotive and architectural industries. He is listed as inventor or coinventor on over 40 glass industry patents.

Nitschke began his career at Sun Oil Co. and L.O.F Glass, before partnering with Harold McMaster in 1951. Their partnership provided engineering and executive management to several glass industry ventures. Their first company, Permaglass Inc., introduced and promoted tempered automotive glass, which is used in nearly all vehicles in the United States today. Permaglass Air Float furnaces were sold to several large international glass companies and to Chrysler and Ford Motor Co.

In 1971 Nitschke and McMaster partnered with Frank Larimer to establish Glasstech Inc., which developed ceramic roller hearth tempering lines for architectural safety glass. After succeeding with flat glass, Glasstech developed automotive glass bending systems which produce much of the world’s auto glass in factories around the world today.

Nitschke and McMaster also founded Glasstech Solar and then Solar Cells Inc., which developed the cadmium telluride coating technology for the thin film solar modules used to launch First Solar into the solar energy business.

Nitschke was also a leader in the development of safety glass standards. He served on the Safety Glazing Standards Committee of the Society of Automotive Engineers and on glazing committees of the American National Standards Institute. He made important contributions to public safety when he testified before the Consumer Product Safety Commission and served as the chairman of the committee that drafted the Standard for Architectural Safety Glass currently in use today. He helped organize and served as president of the Glass Tempering Association and the Safety Glazing Certification Council, an internationally recognized certification organization.

Nitschke retired from his executive responsibilities in 1992. In the years since, he contributed to The University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, The Toledo Symphony, The Toledo Museum of Art, and other community educational endeavors, such as Imagination Station.

Read the full obituary