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Archaeological findings indicate that glass was first made in the Middle East.

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History of glass

Archaeological findings indicate that glass was first made in the Middle East, sometime in the 300's B.C. In the beginning glass manufacturing was slow and costly. Glass melting furnaces were very small and hardly produced enough heat to melt glass properly. In ancient times, glass was a luxury item and few people could afford it.

In the 1st Century B.C.. an unknown person on the Phoenician coast, developed a pipe to blow molten glass.

Glass manufacturing flourished in the Roman empire and spread from Italy to all countries under Roman jurisdiction. Due to mass production, glass become an everyday object and was removed from the list of luxuries.

By the time of the Crusades, decorative glass manufacture had been revived in Venice as a result of good contacts with Byzantium. Equipment was transferred to the Venetian island of Murano, where Soda Lime glass, better known as Cristallo was developed. Venetian glass-blowers created some of the most delicate and graceful glass the world has ever seen. Despite their efforts to keep the technology secret, it soon spread around Europe.

After 1890, glass uses and manufacturing developments increased so rapidly as to be almost revolutionary. The science and engineering of glass as a material was much better understood, and in the late 1950's Sir Alastair Pilkington introduced a new revolutionary production method (float glass production), by which 90% of flat glass is still manufactured today.

Production of glass


The term "float" glass derives from the production method, introduced in the UK by Sir Alastair Pilkington in 1959, by which process 90% of today's flat glass is manufactured. The raw materials (soda ash, silica sand, and lime) are properly weighed and mixed and then introduced into a furnace where they are melted at 1500°C. The resultant molten batch of glass then flows from the glass furnace onto a bath of molten tin in a continuous ribbon. The glass, which is highly viscous, and the tin, which is very fluid do not mix, so that the contact surface between these two materials is perfectly flat. When drawn from the bath of molten tin the glass is cooled down sufficiently to passthrough an annealing chamber called a lehr. Here it is cooled under controlled temperatures, until it is essentially at room temperature.


This describes glass made through a rolling process, whereby the semi-molten glass is drawn out of a furnace and in a continuous ribbon is squeezed between metal rollers to produce a ribbon with pre-defined thicknesses and patterned surfaces. This process is used for patterned and cast glass production.

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