The History of Ultra Tec

The History of the Ultra Tec Faceting Machine
By Ron McMurray at Best Cut Gems

The Ultra Tec Faceting Machine was invented by an aerospace laboratory technician and amateur faceter, Howard Stanley. Howard Stanley’s love of faceting led him to the development of the first Ultra Tec faceting machine. Not being satisfied with the faceting machines of the day, Howard set about designing a better and more accurate faceting machine in his garage workshop in the early 1960s. He incorporated many revolutionary design features in the first prototype, which he patented. In 1965, the "Stanley Lapidary Company" began selling Ultra Tec V-2 faceting machines commercially to the public. Mr. Stanley remained active in the company until 1970 when he sold the Stanley Lapidary Company to aerospace engineers, Joe Rubin and Warren Haines. Howard Stanley retired after the sale of the company and unfortunately died about five years later.

Joe Rubin, a graduate of Brooklyn College, was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1929, on the day the stock market "crashed". He married his wife Maxine in 1951. In 1953 Joe and Maxine moved to California, to seek their fortune, where Joe landed a job in the aerospace industry, working mostly in quality control and product engineering before he finally ended up in a management position with the Hughes Aircraft Company. It was at this time, in 1970, that Joe Rubin and Warren Haines bought the Stanley Lapidary Company. Joe knew nothing about faceting or faceting machines for that matter, he and Warren originally bought the company to have a place to manufacture a new bicycle brake, but once they discovered the Ultra Tec V-2 Faceting Machine, the plans for the bicycle brake were filed away and the rest is history.

During the decade of the 1970s, "faceters fairs" were springing up around the world and with them faceting competitions began. These competitions gave the Ultra Tec V-2 Faceting Machine a great upsurge in popularity as the faceters using them were the predominant award winners in these competitions. As a result of those awards, sales and popularity of the Ultra Tec faceting machine grew and an aggressive "Dealer Program" was pursued. In 1982 Joe Rubin became the sole owner of the company and the name was changed to Ultra Tec Manufacturing Company Incorporated. Warren Haines, after selling his interest in the company to Joe Rubin, moved to northern California.

Joe Rubin has continued on with the Ultra Tec faceting machine. Under his wisdom and guidance, utilizing an active engineering program, the Ultra Tec V-2 faceting machine under went 20 evolutionary changes between 1972 and 1985, these were not major changes as the sound basic design of the Ultra Tec V-2 faceting machine had not changed. These changes are the result of better engineering practices and principles. The last real noticeable machine change to be made was in 1990, changing from the dop chuck to the set screw style dop holder that is employed on the current models. There have also been a couple of important accessories made for the Ultra Tec V-2, two of those being the dial indicator and then the stop indicator light. Joe Rubin, himself was amazed at the accuracy of the stop indicator light, being even more accurate then the dial indicator. Joe has maintained a "non obsolescence policy", making the Ultra Tec faceting machine better without making the older models obsolete. The introduction of computer controlled machining has led to exceedingly tighter tolerances in production. In 1971 +/- .002" was considered "tight" tolerances for machining, now +/- .0002" is just an OK tolerance. These tighter tolerances in machining have made the newer Ultra Tec faceting machines more accurate and reliable. All of the machined parts of the Ultra Tec V-2 are made in their own machine shop. The rubber parts, wood skirt, electronics, and the motor are purchased from outside vendors and then the faceting machines are assembled, in house, where close surveillance of tolerances and tight quality control produce the high quality Ultra Tec faceting machines that people have come to know and expect. It is this commitment to quality and precision that has made the Ultra Tec Faceting Machine one of, if not "THE" best faceting machines still in production today.

There have been thousands of Ultra Tec V-2 faceting machines manufactured over the years. The highest production years were in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, producing about a thousand machines a year. The upsurge in the home computer as brought about a change in peoples habits and hobbies, changing to more passive interests instead of the hands on hobbies of the past. This change has affected all hobbies not just faceting. Ultra Tec Faceting Machine sales still number in the hundreds per year and they are still maintaining an active engineering program. Joe Rubin, at 78 years of age, even though he is semi-retired, is still active in the manufacturing of the Ultra Tec Faceting Machine.

While the Ultra Tec Manufacturing Company may not be the oldest faceting machine company in existence, it is however the oldest in terms of continuous management and production. Many of the other faceting machine companies are no longer in existence, and still others stopped production and later reappeared with new owners. In 1994, Joe’s son, Robert began working full time for Ultra Tec Manufacturing after graduating from college. Joe’s grandson, Michael, now just 14 years of age, who has been faceting for years, (Michael started faceting when he was only 9 years of age) has his own Ultra Tec Faceting Machine and is really enthusiastic about faceting. Michael is already looking forward to joining the team at Ultra Tec Manufacturing. It’s the Rubin family’s commitment to the Ultra Tec that is going to ensure continuous manufacturing and product support for your Ultra Tec Faceting Machine. Combining that commitment with constant "evolutionary development" will continue to keep Ultra Tec a leader in faceting machines for years to come. This is something Ultra Tec Faceting Machine users can count on!

Ultra Tec is still leading the industry by adding new improvements to the Ultra Tec faceting machines, such as the digital angle dial (DAD) that can be added to any existing Ultra Tec V-2 faceting machine. (Joe's "non obsolescence policy")  They have since upgraded the Ultra Tec faceting machine to the new a new heavier updated Mast that is called the Ultra Tec V-5.  The V5 has completely replaced the older V2 faceting machine now.  But not to worry the Company still stands behind the older V2 with parts and service just like always. 

They also added two other new faceting machines to expand their faceting line.  These are the Ultra Tec Concave Faceting Machine and the Ultra Tec Fantasy Machine!  While other faceting machine manufacturers are going out of business Ultra Tec is still being an industry leader.   

Gem cutters, cutting for competition, on Ultra Tec Faceting Machines have won numerous awards over the years. Joe Rubin doesn’t know the actual count but he tells me, "There have been more than I can count, lets just say many, and when the awards circuit was really active, by far the most".  "Faceting Legend", Glenn Klein, author of the book, "Faceting History: Cutting Diamonds and Colored Stones", has won 30 faceting awards with gemstones cut on his Ultra Tec V2 faceting machine.  Whether you are cutting for fun, relaxation, or for competition, the Ultra Tec faceting machine should be your faceting machine of choice. Luckily the history of Ultra Tec faceting machines doesn’t end here; it is to be continued for generations to come.

The facts and information for this history was supplied courtesy of Joe Rubin.