In 1832 the Chance Brothers Company was the first to use the cylinder process, an innovative technique for the production of high-quality nondeforming glass panels.
This six generations family business was founded by Robert Lucas Chance (8 October 1782 – 7 March 1865), who purchased an existing company in Spon Lane Smethwick that made glass for industrial purposes around 1824.
By 1830 the company ran into difficulty and its survival was guaranteed by Chance’s brother William (29 August 1788 – 8 February 1856), who owned an iron factoring business in Great Charles Street, Birmingham, when he decided to be his partner in business.
Although they are known for taking part in projects such as the Crystal Palace and the House of Parliament, in 1832 they made the first cylinder blown sheet glass using French and Belgian workers.
Cylinder Glass Process
The already existing method, known as the crown glass process, enabled buildings to finally have glass windows but the process had its limitations.
The glassblowers couldn’t make extremely large glass disks, and those disks were cut into small panes of glass. Another method needed to be developed from which much larger panes could be made.
In the cylinder glass process, the glassblower gets a gob of molten glass on the end of his blowpipe. But then, instead of a balloon shape, the glass is blown into a long shape that slowly turned into a large cylinder.
The workers stood on a high vertical platform and blew the glass into a deep trench. This allowed them to create the cylinders which were ideally at least around one foot across in diameter and five feet long.