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The University of Southampton
Southampton Chemistry Analytical Solutions

Scientific Glassblowing

What is scientific glassblowing and what is it used for?

Scientific glassblowing is a specialized form of glass blowing used in industry, science, art and design.

It combines traditional hand techniques, including the use of lathes and torches, with the latest technologies such as lasers.

Scientific glassblowing has been important in the development of many innovations including the light bulb and early television sets. Today, glassblowing is important in fields such as advanced fiber optics, electrochemical cells and semiconductors.

Staff at the glassblowing workshop have many years’ experience in the design and construction of specialised glassware used for research and development. Complex apparatus can be constructed in both borosilicate glass and quartz and are manufactured to the highest standards.

Glassblower Lee Mulholland was commissioned  to make a hollow glass baby to demonstrate experiments. Lee’s predecessor, the late Mike Caplin MBE, had made the first model 30 years ago but it shattered in transit during a flight to Berlin. The so-called Bobbitt baby had been used by Professor David Phillips of Imperial College in his lectures to illustrate the treatment of neo-natal jaundice with blue light.

State-of-the-art facilities

The workshop is furnished with a comprehensive range of equipment to manufacture complex scientific glassware and this, together with the technical expertise of the staff, produces a service capable of meeting the demands of researchers in both industry and academia.
Staff at the workshop have been recognised for their glassblowing abilities by the British Society of Scientific Glassblowing (BSSG).

Access for industry

As well as providing equipment to support teaching and research within Southampton university, the team also fulfil external industrial contracts, providing a valuable link between the department and the wider scientific community in the UK and abroad. Recent clients have included Imperial College London, Parker Hannifin and QinetiQ.

No job is too small, however, and the workshop fulfils commissions for small and medium sized businesses.

Contact us


Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 3321

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