The discovery that led to the creation of safety glass was an accident in itself. It was 1903 and French chemist, Edouard Benedictus, was working in his laboratory when he accidentally knocked a glass flask off its shelf. The flask crashed to the floor and shattered, but it did not send sharp shards flying. In fact there were no shards. The broken glass was still slinging together retaining a semblance of the original shape of the flask. But why?
When Benedictus talked to his assistant about the curious incident, he discovered why held the flask together. The flask had contained cellulose nitrate, a type of liquid plastic. The solution had dried on the glass. Since it looked clean his assistant had just put it back on the shelf without washing it.
The plastic coating caused the glass to hold together when the flask was shattered.
Benedictus saw the potential and immediate set to perfecting the concept. His final product consisted of two pieces of glass with a layer of cellulose bonded between them. He patented the laminated glass in 1909.
Automakers did not want to spend the money to use safety glass in their vehicles at that point, but it was widely used in lenses for gas masks during World War I. Ford started using laminated glass in 1919.
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