The glass has been used as an engineering material since ancient times. But because of the rapid progress made in the glass industry in recent times, the glass has come out as the most versatile engineering material of the modern times. The first glass objects made by man were of natural glass such as obsidian and rock crystal. The manufactured glass dates from per-historic times in the Far East, India and Egypt. But its exact place and date of origin are unknown. It is however believed that the ancient Hindus knew the method of glass making long before the Christian era.
With the help of techniques developed in the glass industry, the glass of any type and quality can be produced to suit the requirements of different industries. Just to stress the importance of glass in the engineering field of today, few of the recent developments that have taken place in the glass industry are mentioned below;
(1) A modern Boeing 707 jet plane contains more than 5000 components of glass.
(2) The fibre glass reinforced with plastics can be used in the construction of furniture, lampshades, bathroom fittings, navy boats, aero planes, cars, trucks, etc.
(3) The glass is the only material strong enough to go upto the bottom of ocean and to maintain its buoyancy. It is therefore used in the construction of noses of deep-diving vehicles.
(4) The glass linings are applied on equipments likely to be affected by the chemical corrosion such as valves, pumps, pipes, etc.
(5) In the construction of modern homes, the walls and ceilings of hollow glass blocks can be made. Such construction cuts off the glare. But it admits sunlight and controls sound and heat in a better way.
(6) In the field of fire-arms, the glass is used to form a rifle barrel which is lighter and stronger than the conventional type.
(7) It will be interesting to note that now-a-days, it is possible to prepare the colour-changing glass. A window with such glass will be transparent during daytime and it will be a source of light at night.
(8) The body of a guided missile contains thousands of glass items.
(9) The development and advancement of sciences of astronomy and bacteriology are mainly due to