The Beautiful Process of Turning Quartz Into Lab Glass at 3,000 Degrees

If you work in a lab, you've probably used lab glass made from quartz. But you probably haven't realized that the reason those test tubes are so durable is exactly what makes them so hard to mold. 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 mold at lower temperatures. Instead, this stuff is virtually pure silica, aka quartz crystals—which means that to mold 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 more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit:


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]

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My dad actually owns his own business making this quartz glass. He's one of very few people in the world who actually does this. He makes them in about 20-50lb chunks and sends them to the chinese to cut it for what they need, like the glass in watches, or even spaceshuttle windows.