List of Scientific Glassblowing Tools & Supplies 2021 [Updated]
Scientific glassblowing is a specific type of glassblowing process that focuses on making equipment and apparatuses used for scientific research and production.
These applications are often found in laboratories and industrial settings where scientific glassware is commonly used and especially designed for chemical processes. This specific trade can also be referred to as lampworking.
The materials commonly used in scientific glassblowing are typically quartz or borosilicate glass since scientific glassblowers typically start with glass parts.
The tools associated with scientific glassblowing are very unique to this trade, so the following list can be very helpful for those new to scientific glassblowing. Not only will essential scientific glassblowing tools be discussed, but any safety equipment and personal protective gear will also be included.
- Le Pinnet, Paul (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 454 Pages - 03/17/2017 (Publication Date) - WSPC (EUROPE) (Publisher)
Complete List of Scientific Glassblowing Tools
The most important piece of equipment of a scientific glassblower’s workshop is the torch or burner. These pieces provide the heat source to work with hot glass at the appropriate temperature to facilitate the forming and shaping of a glass piece. Lampworking torches may be expensive, but they are worth the price when working on delicate glassware.
The blowhose (or blowpipe) is a critical tool used by scientific glassblowers to fashion glass shapes and forms used for scientific applications. This glassblowing tool is aptly named a blowhose due to the fact that the glassblower blows air through it into the glassware to shape it. The blowhose itself is made up of a tube with a mouthpiece at the end for the glassblower. The tube of the blowhose is commonly made of latex material.
The end of the blowhose that is not connected to a mouthpiece acts as the end to which the glassware is connected. In order to connect the glassware, the blowhose tube must be connected to a swivel, which, in turn, is connected to a rubber attachment that actually comes into contact with the glassware.
The swivel is a transition fitting that is made up of brass or stainless steel. The swivel can be in the form of a right angle fitting or a straight fitting. This device facilitates the rotation of the glassware while keeping the position of the blowhose stationary.
4) Rubber Tubes and Stoppers
There is a variety of blowhose attachments to be used at the other end of the tube that serve as a means to connect the blowhose to the glassware being fashioned into shape. These attachments come in the form of rubber tubes and stoppers that can vary in size. The different sizes available allow glassblowers to pick the appropriate size that matches the starting glassware materials.
Multi-stoppers are other types of rubber stoppers that can be used for this function. These stoppers come in rings of different sizes that allow glassblowers to easily vary the size of the connections to the glassware.
5) Graphite Paddles
Most scientific glassblowing tools, other than the blowhose assembly are made of graphite. Graphite tools are commonly used in the scientific glassblowing trade because the physical properties of graphite allow the material to withstand high temperatures.
Graphite is also a great material for scientific glassblowing tools because it can be easily fashioned and formed into different shapes to make different tools. Graphite paddles in particular are great forming tools in scientific glassblowing.
Flat paddles have such a basic shape that they can be used in different ways. They are often used to flatten the base of glassware and adjust the diameter of glass tubing. Another common use of flat paddles is creating a tapered shape along a glass piece.
6) Graphite Rounds
Graphite rounds are another essential type of scientific glassblowing forming tool. Like flat paddles, graphite rounds can also be used to form tapes in glassware. Their cylindrical and conical shapes make them great tools to use when creating indentations along the walls of a glass tube.
Strikers are very useful tools that can easily light the torch or burner that a glassblower is using. Some strikers feature an attached cup that serves as a way to trap the flammable gas in order to ignite it more easily. Strikers are a staple tool in scientific glassblowing since they facilitate the heating of the glass.
Tweezers in scientific glassblowing are great tools to use when trying to maneuver heated glassware. They can act as an extension of your hands when trying to pull or bend hot glass. Not only can tweezers hold and grab the hot glass, but they can also hold onto other tools you are using as well.
9) Knives and Scorers
Knives and scorers play an essential role in glassblowing as tools that can properly cut and score glass pieces. These glass-cutting knives are made of tungsten carbide, which is a dense, inorganic carbon compound. There are different methods of cutting glass that can be used in conjunction with these essential tools. Glass pieces can be scratched with a glass knife and then snapped apart.
10) Tungsten Pick
Tungsten picks are great tools to use when trying to repair glass pieces. They are typically composed of a handle and a thin tungsten rod, known as the pick. Due to its thin shape, it can act as a sort of glass sewing needle to conduct repairs on hot glass by eliminating small openings.
Tungsten picks can also move small amounts of glass onto a glass workpiece, allowing a glassblower to easily add material to it if needed.
Scientific glassblowers have to be specific about the size and measurements of the glassware they are forming. One of the most important tools for measuring glass parts are calipers, which can help glassblowers be more accurate and precise with the shapes and sizes of the hot glass pieces they create. If the finished glassware is not the correct size and shape, then this can introduce a lot of error to an experiment that a scientist might run in a laboratory with this equipment.
12) Didymium Glasses
The process of glassblowing can be very damaging to a person’s eyes, so many glassblowers use didymium lenses to protect their eyes when working with hot glass. The reason why the glassblowing process is so harmful is because hot glass emits UV light, which causes similar damage as staring at the sun.
Didymium glasses are a great form of personal protective equipment because they not only protect your eyes from any glass fragments, but also filters the harmful yellow light emitted by the heated glass.
13) Heat Defense Pads
Heat defends pads are a great form of protection from hot workpieces. These pads can be used to hold glass when it is too hot to hold and they can serve as a way to wipe away dust from a workpiece. A good quality heat pad can allow glassblowers to dust a glass workpiece off without leaving a mark.
14) Kevlar Gloves
Kevlar gloves are very important pieces of personal protective equipment. They can shield your hands from hot surfaces and give you the ability to work with hot pieces without much risk of burning your hands.
It is important glassblowers understand the limitations of delicate hand movements in thick gloves, but the importance of safety far outweighs the small inconveniences. Investing in good quality gloves is an investment in your own well-being as a glassblower.