By Richard Pelleriti, Executive Vice President, RAM Products, Inc., Columbus, Ohio, USA. Reprinted from Ceramic Industry magazine July, 1998 issue.
The RAM Process was invented and patented in the mid-1940's by Keith Blackburn and Richard Steel, both ceramic engineering graduates from Ohio State University. Harold Dawson, an OSU graduate in mechanical engineering and co-owner of a small machine shop, developed and built the first RAM Press shortly thereafter. He continued to make the press for RAM until he retired in 1979.
After a decade of licensing the RAM Process, Blackburn and Steel sold their company to the Wallace Murray Corp., a holding company that also owned Eljer Plumbingware. Part of the Murray strategy was to use the process to gain a competitive edge for Eljer. The operation was commissioned as the RAM Division and moved from Columbus to Springfield, where it was located until 1983. This division continued to serve the pottery industry but also expanded into serving electrical porcelain and insulator manufacturers, amoung others.
Also during this time, a joint effort with United States Gypsum resulted in the development of a die-making material called Ceramical, a cement-based product specially designed for RAM pressing. Another major and very positive develoment was the Ceramic Die, which continues to be sold today on a limited basis.
RAM Products, Inc. was organized in 1979 when selected assets of the RAM Division were purchased by Dawson and other investors. The original intent was to use the RAM Process to make tile and to continue to serve existing customers. Until the 1980's the manufacture of equipment had been outsourced. But in 1986, the 15-ton cub press, designed to be installed in the smallest of studios by potters who had little knowledge of hydraulics, was built in-house and released for general sale. Since that time, all RAM Press manufacturing, rebuilding and remanufacturing has been done in-house.
From the studio market segment came some very interesting developments, including the hydraulic cart and rack system, standard tooling, and the manufacture of working dies off premise. Today, potters working alone can purchase a small RAM Press as part of a package and have all the equipment, dies and tooling necessary to begin pressing upon installation of their system. Larger presses up to 150 tons are available for high volume production.