If you work in a lab, you've probably used lab glass made from quartz. But you probably haven't realised that the reason those test tubes are so durable is exactly what makes them so hard to mould. These beautiful GIFs, shot at GE's Global Research in upstate New York, shows exactly what it takes to make those beakers.
First, a little background: This bespoke lab glass can withstand insane temperatures and chemical reactions because it's made of fused quartz. That means it contains virtually none of the stuff that's added to normal glass to make it easier to mould at lower temperatures. Instead, this stuff is virtually pure silica, aka quartz crystals — which means that to mould it into test tubes, you need incredibly high temperatures.
Photographer Chris New visited the GE lab in Schenectady and shot the following lovely animations of the process. There, employees use blowtorches to superheat the quartz to 1650C:
Just like more traditional glassblowing, these nuggets of molten-hot glass are then turned on a lathe so that employees can shape them using protective gear and heat-resistant shaping tools.
According to Txchnologist, this GIF shows Bill Jones, a master scientific glassware maker who's worked at GE for 33 years:
Needless to say, it takes a certain about of guts to stand next to a lathe spinning a chunk of molten glass while wearing jeans and a polo shirt. Check out more GE goodness on New's Instagram. [GE on Tumblr]