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Taylor Devices reaches the stars

Taylor Devices’ seismic damper technology is widely used to protect buildings and bridges from damage during earthquakes or periods of high winds.

But the technology’s use in the space program is what got the North Tonawanda shock absorber manufacturer and its president and CEO, Douglas P. Taylor, inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame.

Taylor Devices’ seismic damper technology is the 73rd innovation inducted into the Hall of Fame that the Space Foundation established 27 years ago in Colorado Springs, Colo., to increase public awareness of the benefits that result from space exploration.

Taylor Devices, which was founded 60 years ago by Douglas Taylor’s father, Paul, started working with NASA in the 1960s, during the heyday of the manned space program, Douglas Taylor said. Its dampers and other technologies have been used on many space platforms and are still being used to protect equipment on the International Space Station.

“This work continues today,” Taylor said.

Within the last few months, the company has won a production contract to make control actuators that will be used on a commercially launched manned space vehicle that Taylor Devices officials have declined to identify.

The company also has won a pair of development contracts from NASA for its next-generation long-range manned space vehicle. One of those contracts would be to develop components for an in-flight launch-abort system, while the other is for the development of umbilical and fuel line control actuators for the vehicle’s launch gantry.

Taylor Devices adapted the technology more than a decade ago for the construction industry, developing systems that can be built into buildings and bridges to help them withstand the damaging structural swaying and movement that can be caused by earthquakes and extremely high winds. Those construction products now are a major part of Taylor Devices’ $20 million in annual sales.

The company’s seismic dampers, for instance, are being used at a new 96-story condominium tower at 432 Park Ave. in Manhattan, which is expected to be the tallest residential high-rise in the Western Hemisphere, with condos selling for $8 million to $95 million.

Taylor’s dampers are being used on projects ranging from the Kentucky Lake Bridge in Aurora, Ky., to a courthouse in San Diego to railway bridges in China and office buildings in Taiwan.

“It is gratifying to know,” Taylor said, “that our recognized work in seismic damper technology is now successfully protecting hundreds of buildings and bridges around the world against the effects of high winds and earthquakes.”