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Indispensable for heavy work, the jackhammer was developed in the middle of the XIXe century, both in the United States and in Europe.

Thermal breaker

This was to facilitate the tunneling, the exploitation of mines, the earthworks of roads and railways, in a world that was transforming the industrial revolution, relying on the power of compressed air. Less dangerous than explosives, the latter is known since the invention of the air pump, in 1650, by the Prussian Otto von Guericke. The cooling of the air, the development of valves and joints are invented in the 1840s.

Between 1849 and 1851, Couch, then Fowle in Pennsylvania already made the first gear intended, as in Europe, to facilitate the work of miners and tunnel boring machines.

Between 1853 and 1861, the digging of the Mont Cenis tunnel allowed the finalization of the jackhammer. The paternity of the patent, which gives rise to intense debates, is finally attributed to the Savoyard Germain Sommeiller.

From the 1920s, the use of jackhammer became widespread in the mines of northern France.

After 1945, the building sites of the reconstruction of Europe imposed the constant presence of jackhammers, electric versions of which, lighter, appeared in the 1960s at all machine builders.

The tool of the miner Alexey Stakhanov becomes the symbol of the Soviet productivity during the Stalinist period.


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