Our History

For over 39 years, the innovative and groundbreaking team at IRD Glass and IRD Ceramics have done things that virtually no one else has with glass and ceramics. Our capabilities and expertise have increased year after year, as we meet the increasing needs of our customers. Today, IRD Glass is a local, national, and international leader in precision optical, ceramic and sapphire manufacturing. We have been contacted by engineers from around the world looking for parts that nobody else could provide.

In 1983 an entrepreneur from Litchfield, MN started a small company that focused on manufacturing custom, precision glass components. Calling themselves Industrial Research and Development, they set up business in a local commercial garage. Their initial manufacturing efforts centered on Zerodur components for the aerospace industry, and precision optics for a variety of regional customers in the electro-optic sensors arena, including the wafer and circuit board inspection capital equipment industry.

In 1997, a group of MN-based investors purchased the company, and their first order of business was to move the company into a brand new 12,000 sq. ft. facility, built from the ground up with this business in mind. In 1998, Industrial Research and Development, with average annual sales of $1.5M, moved into their current home at 810 E Saint Paul Street in Litchfield, MN.

In addition to the glass business, IRD also expanded into the ceramics and ultra-hard materials markets by opening a sister facility in Alexandria in 1998. Welcome, IRD Ceramics.

Growth was brisk, and in 2005, an addition designed to facilitate the growing precision optics segment was built, bringing the total square footage to 22,000 ft². That same year another big change was rolled out as the company changed its name from Industrial Research and Development to IRD Glass, better portraying the company’s core competency: precision glass and optical components. At that same time, IRD Glass also acquired the optics division from APA Enterprises, and brought that business in-house.

In 2015 IRD Ceramics went through a complete remodel and expansion, growing their factory floor space from 7,000 to 15,000 ft². They added clean room capabilities, CNC scribing, and a customized double-sided lap and polish system optimized for sapphire components.

2019 saw the most recent addition at the Litchfield location, as they just added an additional 10,000 ft² of manufacturing and office space. With the constant and rapid growth, the additional space was sorely needed. The Litchfield headquarters now has over 30,000 ft² of space to better serve their customers.

Today IRD employs 65+ people and averages over $11M in annual sales. Their manufacturing operations are cell-based, meaning there are dedicated employees, dedicated equipment, and dedicated floor space for a specific customer or product line. Each cell is responsible for the entire process a component will experience, from ordering raw material to final inspection and shipping.

Our Disciplines

In 1997, Keith Anderson, Richard Hill and Dennis Rutledge bought a small company called Industrial Research and Development (IRD) that focused on glass component manufacturing. They saw the potential in precision optical glass, and built IRD to encompass three interlinked disciplines: Technical Glass Components, Optical Glass Components, and Ceramic Components and IR Components.

Unique Manufacturing Process

Our manufacturing operations are cell-based, meaning that our customers receive dedicated employees, dedicated equipment, and dedicated floor space at our facility. Each cell is responsible for the entire life cycle a component will experience, from ordering raw material to final inspection and shipping.  Our business model has been successful, and today we are a sole-source provider to large and small corporations across the globe.

Veteran-Owned Small Business

IRD Glass is a qualified Small Business as well as a Veteran-Owned Business, as defined by the SBA. In fact, IRD is extremely proud to have 100% ownership by 2 United States Veterans, representing both the Navy and the Army! Yeah, it gets a little intense around here during the annual Army-Navy football game!