Hugh Trautmann – A Pioneer in Glass Cutting Technology – Passes at Age 84

June 13th, 2018 by Editor

Hugh Trautmann, a longtime Billco engineer and a pioneer in the glass industry, passed away peacefully on June 9, 2018 at the age of 84. Well known around the world as innovative and forward-thinking, Trautmann was one of the most influential contributors to the development of technology in the glass industry. His legacy and techniques have set the standards for much of the cutting technology still in use today.

In 1972, Trautmann was tasked with developing a single head glass cutting machine.  No machine like this existed in the glass industry at the time.  By 1974, he had successfully engineered and built the first ever Numerically Controlled (NC) glass cutting machine. This new technology became the standard for cutting automotive glass, eliminating the need for templates during cutting. The development of single head cutting generated the demand for cutting layout optimization and the emergence of software for the glass industry soon followed.

Shortly thereafter, Trautmann expanded upon his design to include shape cutting capabilities. As the industry developed, Hugh continued to advance his design, eventually integrating Computer Numerical Controls (CNC) in 1983.  In the early 1990s, Trautmann began experimenting with magnetic (linear motor) drive systems. He was quick to realize the potential impact this technology could have on glass cutting operations.

In 1994 he introduced and patented the revolutionary Ultra Series glass cutting table. Initially available only on small cutters for the automotive industry because of limitations on the technology, by 1999 Trautmann had been able to develop and build an architectural cutter using a linear motor drive system. The Ultra Series eliminated the rack and pinion system, giving fabricators the ability to achieve greater cutting speeds and higher accuracy.

“Hugh’s unique way of thinking, combined with his profound vision, has had a tremendous impact upon our industry,” reads a company statement. “His creations are the foundation of our business and the cornerstone of machinery in facilities everywhere. His designs are still the highest standard for modern glass cutting table drive systems across the globe. Billco is proud to have had the privilege to work with Hugh. He was not only a brilliant engineer but also a kind, funny and dear friend to many. He will be missed dearly but his legacy will remain.”

Trautmann is preceded in death by his wife Barbara J (Bittner); his brother, Phillip Trautmann (Mary Asher) of Laguna Beach, Calif., and his fraternal twin, John Trautmann (Jane McCleeve) of San Jose, Calif.

He is survived by his five children: Susan Crist (Peter Crist) of Saxonburg, Pa., Timothy Trautmann of Columbus, Ohio, Peter Trautmann (Steve Shipp) of Columbus, Ohio, Merrill Jacques (Kevin Jacques) of Rocky River, Ohio, and Anne Trautmann of Taos, N.M.

He is also survived by five granddaughters, Devon Norris (Joe Norris), Emily Mueller (Ken Mueller), Alexandria Crist, Laura Crist, Jordan Jacques and one grandson, Henry Hugh Jacques; also by two great granddaughters and one great-grandson.

A graveside service for Trautmann will be held on Saturday, June 16, 2018 at 11 a.m., at the Brownsdale Cemetery, located at Brownsdale Road in Butler, Pa., with Rev. Susan Brown officiating. Those who so desire may make memorial donations in memory of Trautmann to the Butler Humane Society, located at 1015 Evans City Road, Renfrew, PA 16053.

Trautmann’s obituary is available to read here.

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