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Electroforming was invented in 1838 by a German engineer living and working in Russia, Moritz Hermann von Jacobi. While working on big electric motors and batteries to run them, he developed electroforming, then called galvanoplastics or electrotyping to make printing plates. Electrotyping has been used ever since to make printing plates in printing factories around the world. One of the most common is the US mint to make printing plates for dollar bills. Before the turn of the century, the English and the Germans did a lot of galvanoplastics to make all kinds of decorative objects, statues, lamp posts and reproduce museum artifacts. The Germans had a big electroforming factory before WWII. Read about Moritz von Jacobi here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrotyping
Alvin Tuck Sr. worked for Tiffany Studios in New York designing those wonderful Tiffany Lamps with the beautiful colored glass shades. If you go to the Tiffany Museum in Winter Park Florida (part of Orlando) you will see a lamp that states “designed by Alvin Tuck”. That is not a really pretty lamp, but he did a lot of very nice ones including some of those great dragon fly shades. We have a portfolio of all his designs. Tiffany used mostly cast bronze for the lamp bases, but sometimes they would use an electroformed base, which could give much more crisp details. Alvin Tuck Sr. saw that and realized he could get into his own lamp business. In 1914 he hired a German who knew how to do it and set him up with some copper electroforming tanks in his basement in Flushing Queens. Then in 1917 he left Tiffany’s and opened the A J Tuck Co. on 346 East 32nd Street in Manhattan selling his own lamps, and had an electroforming shop in a loft at 329 East 26th Street where he made them. His lamps had just clothe shades, but the lamp bases had detailed beautiful designs, only producible by electroforming.
In the mid 1920’s he moved out into the country, to Brookfield, CT. He had searched around looking for a good place for his shop, and purchased the Lennox Shear Factory on the Still River in Brookfield, which had gone out of business. There was a dam and a water wheel, which is what he was looking for. He installed a horizontal turbine and converted the water power into a hydroelectric facility himself, to generate DC power to run his electroforming tanks. There he continued making his own lamps, until the depression killed that business and then he went into making electroformed jewelry. He also made electroformed copper caskets, with decorative images on the outsides. The mandrels for the caskets were also used as the plating tanks.
In the 1940’s, his son, Alvin Tuck Jr., began working on other options for electroforming. Here is a picture of him working on an electroformed man for testing flight suits during WWII, before he went in the army himself and was sent to Italy. In the late 1950’s he got into making waveguides. He took on a partner, Mr. Albert Marvin, and in 1962 they built the present day plant next door to the old factory to electroform waveguides for Western Electric, the manufacturing branch of AT+T. That was when long range telephone transmission was changing form wire to microwave, and the A J Tuck Co. made all of the fussy microwave transitions for all of the long-line towers across the nation. You probably remember those red and white towers with the big “sugar scoop” antennas on top. They were everywhere. We made all of the microwave transitions and filters for all of them, all across the country, while other companies made the long waveguides that ran down the towers by extrusion. That was before CNC machines and we had rows of Bridgeport millers, drill presses and manual lathes. We machined the waveguides, soldered on the flanges, did silver and cadmium plating and performed RF electrical testing. That was huge business, at one time we were making a whole ton of copper waveguides every week, but it all ended when telephone transmission coast to coast went to fiber optics. But, the experience of that led to what the A J Tuck Co. has become today, a leader in the manufacture of complete components including the basic electroforming, all aspects of machining, assembly, plating, testing and the mastery of overall design to combine all to achieve what our customers’ final designs are. All our customers do is send us engineering drawings and files of what their finished complex products need to be, and we figure out everything, all the processes, manufacturing steps, purchased components, and how to meet all the specifications, dimensions and tolerances required to make and put together everything. We are not just an electroforming facility, we are a complete manufacturing site. We are open to any industry to make anything that in any way combines an electroformed component in a final design.
Alvin J Tuck IV, third generation.