Back in 2002, the railroad tracks next to the last large scale clear borosilicate (boro) plant left in the U.S began to fill up with rail road cars chock full of crates bound for Brazil. Exit the last scaled domestic producer of boro.
Yes, for the wiki types and fact checkers among you, there are boutique crucibles still in operation in the U.S., however, they are surely for boutique demand requiring the customer to buy the entire pour regardless of quality or consistency.
As usual, China was happy to fill the void, or was it a void created by their unfettered and unrestricted dumping of materials in the U.S. at the behest of paid lobbyist and politicos in the first place? Either way, color production had halted years before then in the U.S. anyway, and China is now the sole domicile of colored boro tubing.
Power corrupts, and as such, now that we have no way to fight back, (ok everyone, act surprised) prices have gone up. A lot. Under the not so veiled threats from China category, we find the Rare Earth Element embargo. China’s a big place folks, and like the U.S., it’s got some territory, which happens to have stuff in the dirt that most of the free world is interested in. Don’t think this effects your daily life and this lowly pipe maker should just shut up and make cool glass pipes, think again.
Cesium and Cerium are both rare earth elements that come from, yup, you guessed it, China. They are both components of pink and purple tubing. When it was shipped regularly, we bought it for around $3-$3.50 per pound. It’s new landed cost, commodity wholesale level is $7.50 per pound for a production factory like Chameleon, whoa to those of you trying to buy it at the obscenely high individual glass blower levels from Glasscrapt.
So, of course, pink and purple import pipes are more expensive too, right? Were talking about China here folks. They don’t miss an opportunity to stick it to the U.S. whether it is Syrian bombardment of civilians or glass pipes…so, of course they are just as cheap as they always have been. Remember, the embargo is just that, and embargo, which is a way of protecting your own industrial base and the jobs that go with it…something we have forgotten how to do in this country.