A website devoted to the  science of web handling

Professional history

Jerry Brown, August 2016

Fife Corporation – Web Handling:

After graduating from Oklahoma State University in 1962 with a BS in Physics and Mathematics, I joined an Oklahoma company that manufactured industrial control systems for roll-to-roll processing of sheet materials (web processing). At the time, all of their products were pneumohydraulic and I was asked to put together a small team to develop a new electrohydraulic system. Our efforts were successful and over the next 10 years we developed an entire family of optical sensors, signal processors and electrical actuators for a wide range of applications. These were parts of closed-loop systems that controlled the lateral registration of sheet materials in industries such as paper, plastics, metals and textiles.

Fife Corporation – Thickness Gauging:

In 1973 the company formed a division to do nuclear thickness gauging of webs and I became its engineering manager. Starting with an outdated analog system purchased from ICI in Great Britain, we developed the world’s first microprocessor-based nuclear thickness gauging system for web processes. This was an exciting and challenging business. Our systems were sold to Fortune 500 companies for $150,000 to $1,000,000. In addition to providing online measurement and control of product thickness they controlled other variables such as temperature and flow. This responsibility continued through 1983.

Kollmorgen – Multiwire Machines:

During the next few years Fife Corporation went through a series of mergers and acquisitions. In the end, I left and moved to Long Island in 1986 where I joined a division of Kollmorgen as engineering manager for Multiwire machines. Multiwire is a process that uses insulated wire instead of etched foil to produce high-density circuit boards. The heart of this process is a complex computer-controlled machine that ultrasonically imbeds insulated wire into a plastic substrate. My job was to get a handle on the process physics (which no one then understood), supervise the equipment group and improve the process to keep up with conventional multilayer board technology. I made a number of important advances in the Multiwire process that led to the introduction of two entirely new machines. But, as I came to understand the underlying physics, it became clear that we would never be able to match the cost/performance advantages of etched technology and in 1998 left to become an independent consultant.


My consulting work has ranged from high-volume consumer appliances to troubleshooting web process problems. Projects include development of a series of ultrasonic pest repellers sold under the trade name of “Stinger” at Walmart, an infrasound measurement system for evaluation of an infrasonic mosquito product, design of precision motion platforms, analysis of web behavior at non-uniform rollers, development of an FEA software package for implementing non-uniform roller analysis and troubleshooting web handling problems involving wrinkling, tension and lateral registration.

Recent work:

In 2013 my wife and I moved back to Oklahoma and are now living south of Oklahoma City in a community named Norman (home of the University of Oklahoma) where I continue to consult and do web handling research. My most recent consulting experience was as an expert witness for a web handling company.