History

History

OUR FIRST ACHIEVEMENTS

We have been in the glass business for a very long time. So long, in fact, that Saint-Gobain equipped its first "vehicle", the sedan chair of Louis XIV's architect, Jules Hardouin Mansart, in 1699.

Of course, glass had been around for centuries before that. It first appeared about 5000 years ago in the form of pearls and jewels in Mesopotamia. The Egyptians also worked with the substance from about 1500 (before Christ)

The production of glass subsequently spread to the Mediterranean basin and the first known window was built on the coasts of that sea, in Pompeii. The composition of the glass used by Romans for their glazing was almost identical to that of glass today.

EVOLVING TECHNIQUES

But it would take some time for glass to become a household object. The process of glassblowing, invented in the 1st Century BC for the production of hollow bodies, helped glassware to make its first forays into medieval homes.

Glass was still not a ubiquitous material until its production was industrialised in the 17th and 18th centuries, when it began to be used extensively in buildings and interior decoration. In 1688, the technique of pouring glass onto metal tables contributed to large-scale production. The process was initially better-suited to manufacturing mirrors, but gradually led to the industrial production of sheet glass.

In 1909, an accident led to the breakthrough of a key technique in glassmaking. French chemist Edouard Benedictus discovered the process of lamination by dropping a flask that had contained nitrocellulose in his laboratory. The shattered glass held together, instead of breaking apart.