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Home Technocracy A gorilla in my pocket: innovation in the production of glass

A gorilla in my pocket: innovation in the production of glass

Abdullah Al Arif
A gorilla in my pocket: innovation in the production of glass
Image Source: Internet

Have you ever thought about the thick slab of glass that you have on your car’s windshield, or the fragile glass on your mobile screen? Have you ever wondered what this material that’s used in almost everything we work with everyday is composed of? We have become so accustomed to glass products in your daily life that these questions don’t even particularly occur to us. However, it is one of the major inventions by man, and here’s how glass has evolved throughout the decades into the hundreds of kinds we see and use today. 

The legend behind the invention of glass is interesting to say the least. A Phoenician merchant ship was anchored at a Syrian port laden with Nitrum. The merchants were cooking their meal on the seashore, and due to not having stones to prop up their pots, they used lumps of Nitrum from the ship. The Nitrum reacted and fused with the sand and streams of a new translucent liquid flowed from there. That translucent substance was what we call glass today.

The history of glass production dates back to 3000 B.C. It is believed that the first manufactured glass was produced in the form of a glaze on ceramic vessels during that time. The first glass vessels were manufactured in 1500 B.C. in Egypt and Mesopotamia. The glass industry flourished in the next 300 years and then weakened. Subsequently, it was revived in Mesopotamia in the 700's B.C. and in Egypt in the 500's B.C. 

During the 20th century, the development, manufacture, and use of glass increased rapidly. Glass manufacturing technology has developed enormously and now glass can be tailored to meet custom needs. Mechanisms have been developed for precise, continuous manufacture of sheet glass, tubing, containers, bulbs, and a host of other products.

However, a major innovation in glass manufacturing took place in 1964. An American company named Corning Incorporation patented a new kind of glass which was called Chemcor. This particular invention had not proved to be very successful for Corning before the advent of Smartphones. However, this new variety of glass then created a revolution in the world of smartphones, laptops, tablets, iPods etc. 

The story behind the invention of this new glass Chemcor is equally interesting. In 1952, chemist Don Stookey was working in his office at Corning Enterprise. One day, he placed a sample of photosensitive glass in a furnace and set the temperature to 600 degrees Celsius, but a malfunction on the controller let the temperature climb to 900 degrees Celsius. He went to take the glass out and dropped it on the floor, but instead of shattering, it bounced. This new material was then named Chemcor.

Gorilla Glass is the registered trademark of the product Chemcor. Do you have any idea about this new kind of glass? Let me tell you. If you have a smartphone or a tablet of Samsung, Motorola, Nokia, LG, Lenovo, Dell or Acer Company, you probably are a beneficiary of this wonderful innovation. Today, 3 billion devices 40 major brands use Gorilla Glass for the simple reason that this new variety of glass is thin yet strong, scratch and damage resistant. 

 

September 19, 2015
About Author

The author is a lecturer at Daffodil International University.

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