A Legacy of Innovation

Central Research Laboratories (CRL) was founded in Red Wing, MN in 1945 by three colleagues that met while performing research in radar systems at MIT. From its inception, CRL was planned as a technically oriented, high quality, small lot, precision manufacturing company focused on producing laboratory equipment to the U.S. Government.

The first products produced by CRL were calibration instrumentation for radar systems. By 1950 CRL’s relationship with Ray Goertz at Argonne National Laboratory had led them to expand their product portfolio to include Telemanipulators. Telemanipulators are mechanical “arms” that consist of a control (master) arm coupled to a remote (slave) arm via a series of gears, pulleys, and linkages. Movement of the control arm by an operator results in movement of the remote arm. This allows for the remote handling of materials that would otherwise be too hazardous to touch.

CRL’s first 2 sets of Telemanipulators were Model 1 type and were sold to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in 1951. As the U.S. Government invested heavily in nuclear research during the early years of the cold war, CRL’s production grew. Between 1951 and 1954 CRL delivered 74 sets of Telemanipulators to such U.S. customers as Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, General Electric Co., as well as Nissho Co. Ltd of Japan.

By 1953 it became apparent that the current U.S. Atomic Energy Commission Telemanipulator designs (Models 1, 4, and 7) were lacking in features and performance. To address the issue Argonne National Laboratory contracted with CRL to design, develop, and produce a heavier duty model that would penetrate only the vertical wall of the hot cell, and be easily installed and removed from the operator’s side of the cell. The result was the Model 8 manipulator with Demetrius Jelatis of Central Research Laboratories as the chief inventor.

Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, CRL continued to develop and produce Telemanipulators of their own design and became the foremost leader in the nuclear remote-handling industry. Overtime CRL has expanded its product line to include other remote-handling products for the Nuclear and Life Science industry, and today has over 8,000 Telemanipulators in operation around the world.

While the original founders of CRL, Dr. Gordon Lee, Dr. Frank Chesley, and Dr. Demetrius Jelatis sold the company in 1979, their vision of Central Research Laboratories as a technically oriented, high quality, small lot, precision manufacturing company lives on. This legacy of innovation continues today as Central Research Laboratories celebrates its 75th Anniversary. While times have changed, and people have come and gone, the core principles of the 3 founders live on; Support our Customers, Solve their Problems, and Serve as Stewards of our Community.