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In 1892, William Painter founded The Crown Cork & Seal Company by creating an innovative way of packaging soft drinks and beer, revolutionizing the bottling industry. Not stopping there, in 1898 Painter designed a machine capable of filling and capping twenty-four bottles in one minute. Business expanded rapidly when Painter began to sell his new era equipment. The company started manufacturing plants in various parts of the world, with operations in Asia, South America and Europe.
Because of Prohibition after World War I, Crown Cork & Seal began the manufacture of soft drinks rather than beer. Charles McManus engineered the merger of Crown Cork & Seal with the New Process Cork Company, increasing net sales to $11 million. In the 1930’s, the company sold half the bottle caps in the world. Crown Cork & Seal acquired Acme Can Company of Philadelphia and moved into canning. In 1937, the company introduced the electrolyte tin-plating process and invented the Crowntainer, a quart beer can.
In 1957, John Connelly took over the company and in 1958 moved it to Philadelphia, pulling it from the brink of bankruptcy where it hovered because of bad moves. The company started to work with the producers of soft drinks about two years later and took a major share of the market, including the aerosol can market. A popular steel two-piece beverage can was introduced by the company in 1969 to use instead of the aluminum can.
Crown Cork & Seal Company made products during the 1950’s and 1960’s that contained asbestos. Their involvement with asbestos came from the time Mundet Cork Company was part of Crown Cork & Seal. Mundet had a division that produced insulation and during the manufacturing of insulation, workers in this division may have been exposed to the dangerous mineral asbestos.
Insulation production may have exposed employees to the minute fiber particles released by asbestos when handled or disturbed. The needle-like fibers are inhaled and penetrate the lining of the lungs, heart and abdomen, as well as other organs. These fibers produce tumors that can cause a deadly form of cancer called mesothelioma. This usually happens after many years of exposure to asbestos, so that a person can be diagnosed with mesothelioma long after the exposure ends.