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Stone, Concrete, Ceramics, and Glass


The stone, concrete, ceramics, and glass industries use material or elements from the earth to construct things as diverse as roads, buildings, bathroom fixtures, and rocket components. There are thousands of workers employed in these industries. For example, the Department of Labor reports that in May 2019, approximately 419,200 people worked in nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing, including stone, concrete, ceramics, and glass manufacturing.

Stone and concrete are the primary materials used in the building industries, but concrete products are more common than stone and include concrete blocks and bricks and ready-mixed concrete. Glass and ceramics products are used in industries such as space technology, telecommunications, food storage, chemistry, medicine, nuclear technology, and computer technology.

The glass industry includes companies that make products such as flat glass, glass containers, pressed and blown glass, and glassware. Secondary glass manufacturing firms are those that develop and produce products from purchased glass such as shower doors, picture glass, clock glass, oven door panels, bulletproof glass, and others too numerous to list.

The ceramics industry manufactures different kinds of ceramic products such as brick and structural clay tile, ceramic wall and floor tile, clay refractories, structural clay products, china plumbing fixtures, porcelain electrical supplies, pottery products, and mineral wool. Earthenware is used in products made with clay in a process similar to ceramics but that are fired at lower temperatures and are more breakable than porcelain and china.

Nonmanufacturing industries related to glass and ceramics include companies involved in research, development, and distribution. Many companies are in the business of supplying raw materials to the industrial ceramics and glass industries, including such materials as clay, silica, alumina, feldspar, metallic oxides, specialized glass for enamels, and other materials for various special applications.

Many suppliers hire engineers who oversee the development of their materials and products and tell developers and researchers what is required on the production line, what new products a customer needs, and what current problems the customer or industry is encountering. Developers and researchers create new products based on the information supplied by the engineers and work with production personnel to produce finished articles. Salespeople create or expand the market for the completed products and sell them to clients.