* Design pour une innovation créative

Nantes Shanghai Pune São Paulo Montréal Cotonou
Back to search

Materials: Glass in the Limelight

Materials: Glass in the Limelight

The collaborative material library of L’École de design, which boasts no less than 2000 items (samples, books, CD’s etc.), introduces you to a new material: glass.


MasterGlass par MasterLens

Glass has been around for 5 000 years. It was discovered totally haphazardly: Prehistoric men scouring volcanoes after they had erupted and quickly cooled down unknowingly picked up splinters of glass. Mesopotamians (whom Mankind already owed the wheel) managed to make glass. Egyptians refined it. Tutankhamen had the privilege to drink from the first glass bottles ever. The first glass window was produced in England circa 1 180. Heat-resistant glass (Pyrex) dates back from1 887.

Glass is made out of 3 non-toxic minerals. First sand (silicium) is heated to ultra-high temperature (1 600° C) until it liquefies. Thanks to sodium oxide (carbonate of sodium: white powder), sand melts at a lower temperature. Then lime (carbonate of calcium) is added to the mixture to reinforce it. Glass can be willingly colored in blue by a hint of cobalt, or in deep green with chrome or iron.

Glass is a harmless, motionless material. No need to add an extra-layer over it to preserve food flavors. Glass can therefore be sterilized, pasteurized and can stand micro-wave oven heating

Today the European glass industry uses only half as much energy as it did in the sixties. Glass is 100 % recyclable to infinity. Manufacturing a recycled bottle costs 40% less energy than making a bottle from scratch. With the energy thus saved one could operate a fridge for 6 hours. It takes up to 70 days for a glass container dropped into recycling bin to come back to life in another shape and reappear on supermarket shelves.

Philippe Blanchard,

Faculty / Materials & Technology Coordinator

Glass structure - tram station Le Cardo in Nantes