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Author Topic: Glassblowing and glasswork at lab  (Read 466 times)

johnbentcope

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Glassblowing and glasswork at lab
« on: February 29, 2016, 03:08:13 PM »
Glass is an awesome material. I've been learning it's uses in artistic and scientific areas, and both of those are vast areas of practice and study.


Being able to introduce this material to the lab would be a lot of fun, and I hope it could inspire people to make cool new parts and projects that would otherwise be out of their grasp. Need an airtight rigid device? Want a pendant to show off how you answered the member meeting's Star Trek/Star Wars inquisition? Looking to emulate the Miller Urey experiment but Skycraft is out of tungsten filament infused vacuum chambers? All of this is possible with a torch and some extra tooling.


Necessary things for a station
  • Torch
  • Fuel
  • Regulators on fuel line with possible padlock
  • Flame resistant work surface
  • Ventilation
  • Annealing kiln
  • Fire Extinguisher
Optional cool things
  • Mandrels and bead release
  • Hand tools
  • Glass lathe
  • Glass clamps and stands
Consumables
  • Glass
  • Fuel
  • Bead Release
I'd like to get some input of the general membership about this. Are you interested in learning beadmaking? Would you like to meet up and go over some books and video tutorials first? Are you interested in buying or contributing a piece of equipment?  Would you like to throw some extra money at the cause?


Glasswork is medium and process to which most people don't have access. Having a basic intro to safety being the barrier to entry to lampwork could entice an entirely untapped area of Orlando maker into joining. Some of the above tools we already have around the lab, gathering dust. Some of them may need a little FamiLABbing to work for this though...
« Last Edit: February 29, 2016, 03:35:13 PM by johnbentcope »
I like colors.

johnbentcope

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Re: Glassblowing and glasswork at lab
« Reply #1 on: February 29, 2016, 03:33:38 PM »

Expanding on the above lists:


The Torch
This can be anything from a $50 hothead torch that runs on pure (and pricey) MAPP gas, or something in the $150-$20,000 range that runs on a blend of propane and oxygen. I'd recommend something in the $200 range, like the $190 Bobcat from GTT. There are others out there, but I keep hearing how nice and quiet these are, in addition to their ease of cleaning. The $150 Nortel Minor, like the Bobcat, is also widely discussed as a solid beginner's torch. These can be found on craigslist and eBay as well, with varying luck and in varying conditions. I've recently had the pleasure of using the nice $435 Lynx from GTT and that was a dream, if a bit out of the price range for a new one. The difference between a $50 hothead and the torches I've linked is the ability to burn hotter using oxygen, which is necessary for using high temperature borosilicate glasses. I'd prefer to make labware out of borosilicate, and thusly I have a preference for the oxygen mix torches.


Fuel
This is usually a tank of propane that you park a small distance from the table, ideally around a corner or behind a wall. A grilling tank of propane should last many afternoons of working with a small torch. If we go with the $50 torch, fuel is all we'll need. If we add oxygen (and I think we'd quickly outgrow a torch that doesn't use O2) we'll need a source. Oxygen can quickly become expensive, but there's a way to make it on demand. Oxygen concentrators for glassblowing are usually around $1000, but old medical concentrators work just as well, just at a lower PSI. Plenty of glass shops use these old devices for their torchwork. They can be found on craigslist for $200-$300. They like to be kept away from humidity, so that might have to be parked in the laptop bar with the glass area within tubing's reach.


Regulators
These are necessary because we're mixing fire with tanks of gas. Lockable regulators mig


Ventilation
Best case scenario is that we have a fancy vent hood over our head making a lot of noise and blasting our atmosphere into orbit. Also acceptable is a desk fan blowing the fumes off to the left.


Annealing kiln
We've got two kilns at our disposal. One's really big and should generally be untouched by hackers. There's also a small Paragon kiln, that could be made even smaller and is free for modification. With the Paragon's heating elements replaced and a controller added, if could serve our annealing purposes for the vast majority of glasswork. I don't foresee us outgrowing something of that size with glassware we'd be making. I've worked with two annealing kilns. One had a beautiful digital controller that you could program ramp cycles into and would automatically adjust temperatures over time. The other had a PWM controller that you adjusted from 0 to 10. The second had a thermocouple plugged into a temperature indicator hanging next to the kiln. Every few minutes we'd go over and check the temperature and fiddle with the dial a bit. Both work fine, the latter just needs more babysitting on the ramp down cycle.


The optional cool things all kind of depend on what people want to make with a torch and annealing kiln.


I'm happy to answer more questions if people have them. If people are interested in pitching in, we can come up with a list of things to purchase and raise some money for it.


For those scientifically minded, here's a great online guide to getting started with making laboratory glass (which I'll happily discuss with you as well).

TL;DR: Torch can be got for $150, oxygen concentrator for $200, and we'll need hoses and regulators and a propane tank. If anybody has any of this and wants to share, that's great, otherwise we'll try and raise a few hundred bucks and get it going.
« Last Edit: February 29, 2016, 03:39:02 PM by johnbentcope »
I like colors.

willasaywhat

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Re: Glassblowing and glasswork at lab
« Reply #2 on: February 29, 2016, 03:43:39 PM »
I'd be happy to throw some cash in if/when this gets crowdfunded. I really think adding more art to the lab's arsenal of awesome things is a step in the right direction. We need that diversity to grow and attract cool people who make things.

darkmoonsinger

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Re: Glassblowing and glasswork at lab
« Reply #3 on: February 29, 2016, 04:01:33 PM »
I debated posting, but - I'd happily causally support this. I'd take classes/attend workshops/toss small amounts of money, but I'm not able at this time to heavily or more passionately support it.

johnbentcope

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Re: Glassblowing and glasswork at lab
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2016, 06:06:23 PM »
Willa wonderful! And Jamie, every little bit helps.

I think the first plan of action is to make the broken!kiln do for an annealing kiln. Chorca's got a temperature manager box, and it needs a thermocouple to work. I can grab one for $5 thanks to Sparkfun. https://www.sparkfun.com/products/13715

After we get that holding at 950F, we should see if we can get together some money and buy a torch and concentrator for ~$350-$400. After that it's all consumables and project-specific costs that individuals can shoulder, like how people bring in their own filament for printing or glass for stained glass.

If we have stainless steel welding rod, that's a good source of mandrel material, and is cheaper than buying purpose-made mandrels.
I like colors.