Let there be light: American Gas Lamp Works

There is something nostalgic and beautiful about the flickering flame and warm glow of a traditional gas lamp. This beauty was not lost on David Jardini, owner of American Gas Lamp Works (AGLW). Founded in 2012, when David purchased the assets of a defunct predecessor company, AGLW prides itself on manufacturing high-quality outdoor lighting right here in Pennsylvania. While the company has enjoyed success since its inception, in 2015 David saw the need to expand the company's product portfolio.

Knowing that the task of designing a new gas lamp would be an extensive engineering undertaking, David recognized he would need help. Before making a significant investment in developing this new product, David reached out to the University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

A management consultant at the University of Pittsburgh SBDC responded to David's request and set up an initial consultation. It was clear David's growing business would benefit from the new product.

David was referred to the manager of Bucknell University's Engineering Development Services (EDS).  The lamp would need to accommodate both gas and electric lighting options, be made of aluminum, and re-use existing molds wherever possible. Cost had to be minimized, but the style had to appeal to a high-end market.

The EDS consultant and his team of student engineering consultants hosted a series of product development meetings with David to perfect the design. Students visited an aluminum foundry to understand the flow characteristics of liquid aluminum during the casting process. Computer-aided design (CAD) drawings were shared with the client for design suitability and with foundry personnel to check manufacturability. Students even used 3D printing technology to verify that design requirements were satisfied – all at no cost to the client.

David gained not only a proof-of-concept prototype, but also valuable insights into the product development process itself, preparing him for future product additions. And the engineering students received valuable real-world experience sure to impress future employers… truly an illuminating engagement for all!