Custom Glass Coils and What They Do

The Versatile Custom Glass Coil

Custom glass coils are specially designed and crafted glass tubes coiled into various shapes and sizes for specific purposes. They are used for a variety of applications, such as cooling, heating, condensing, distilling, mixing, and more. As scientific glass, custom glass coils are made with high-quality materials and precise techniques that ensure accuracy, durability, and performance.

Precision Glassblowing proudly offers high-quality coils in a wide range of materials, sizes, and specifications. Whatever you require, whether borosilicate or quartz; 0.5 mm-20 mm ID tubing; or 5 mm-300 mm inner coil diameter, we have the expertise to satisfy your needs.

For specific optical transmission properties, Precision Glassblowing offers cerium-doped quartz and Heralux quartz as well as synthetically fused silica products for use in UV applications. We are even equipped to supply coils to hold your specified volume.

Custom Glass Coils in production
Manufacturing custom coils at Precision Glassblowing of Colorado.

The History of Glass Coils

Glass coils have been around for a long time, dating back to ancient times when they were used for decorative and religious purposes. The earliest known glass coils were found in Egypt, primarily in beads and jewelry. Glass coils were also used by the Romans, who developed the art of glassblowing and created intricate glass vessels and sculptures.

There is much discussion about who might be the developer of the first scientific glass coil. For example, some believe it is Scottish chemist Thomas Graham (1805-1869). We know Graham for his pioneering work in dialysis and the diffusion of gases. History also regards him as one of the founders of colloid chemistry.

vintage condenser coil
This vintage condenser coil is a good example of an early version.

The Evolution of Glass Coils

While there is no definitive proof that this or another Graham was the developer of the glass coil, some know it by the alternate name of Inland Revenue Coil. That is where a few things might seem to favor Thomas Graham. Eventually, during his storied career, Graham became the Master of the Mint in London from 1855-1869. As such, he researched and authored several papers between 1852-1856 on matters concerning the taxation of alcohol (ethanol) as a consultant to the Board of Inland Revenue.

Some researchers suspect that the glass coil is based on Graham’s research methods. Whether or not that is the case, only time will tell. In the meantime, you can see the Graham Coil Condenser in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. It consists of a coiled glass tube inside a jacket of water. Gas travels through the coiled glass tube which cools and condenses it to a liquid, often as part of the process of chemical distillation.

Since then, glass coils have evolved and improved over time, becoming more complex and versatile. Today, a wide range of scientific and industrial applications use glass coils. For example, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, petrochemicals, food processing, environmental engineering, and many more industries benefit from these components.

custom glass coils production
Glassblower Ron Crane of Precision Glassblowing produces a custom glass coil.

Producing Custom Glass Coils

Based on specific needs and customer preferences, borosilicate or quartz glass are the two primary choices of materials for custom glass coils. Borosilicate glass is a type of glass that has a high resistance to thermal shock, chemical corrosion, and mechanical stress. This is a common material for manufacturing laboratory glassware and cookware. Quartz glass is a type of glass that has high purity and transparency, as well as excellent optical and electrical properties. This is a common material for manufacturing optical instruments and UV applications.

Skilled glassblowers produce custom glass coils using special tools and equipment to shape and bend glass tubes into the desired coil configurations. The process involves heating the glass tube until it becomes soft and pliable, then using a torch or a lathe to manipulate it into various curves and angles. The glassblower must pay close attention to the dimensions, tolerances, and specifications of the coil design, as well as the quality and consistency of the glass material.

glass coils serve many roles
These versatile coils play a role in many products.

Product Uses and Special Needs

A variety of products that require efficient heat transfer, fluid flow, or chemical reaction use custom glass coils. Some examples of products that use custom glass coils are:

  • Heat exchangers: These are devices that transfer heat between two or more fluids or gases without mixing them. Custom glass coils are heat exchangers that cool or heat liquids or gases in some processes.
  • Condensers: These are devices that convert vapors or gases into liquids by cooling them down. Various processes use custom glass coils as condensers to collect distilled liquids or solvents.
  • Reactors: These are devices that facilitate chemical reactions between two or more substances by providing optimal conditions such as temperature, pressure, or catalysts. Some processes use custom glass coils as reactors to mix or separate chemicals.
  • Columns: These are devices that separate mixtures of substances into their components by using different physical or chemical properties such as boiling point, density, polarity, or affinity. Custom glass coils also substitute as columns to purify or separate liquids or gases in various processes.
Benefits of glass coils
Flexibility, durability, performance, and safety are some of the many benefits of glass coils.

Benefits of Custom Glass Coils

Custom glass coils offer many benefits over other types of coils or tubes, such as:

  • Flexibility: Custom glass coils fit any shape, size, or specification the customer requires. Plus, you can modify or repair them easily.
  • Durability: Custom glass coils with high-quality materials resist elevated temperatures, pressures, corrosion, abrasion, and impact. They also have a long lifespan and minimal maintenance costs.
  • Performance: Custom glass coils provide efficient heat transfer, fluid flow, or chemical reaction. This is due to their high surface area to volume ratio and the smooth inner surface. Other contributing factors include the uniform wall thickness and minimal dead space. Plus, they have excellent optical and electrical properties that allow for easy monitoring and control.
  • Safety: Custom glass coils are non-toxic, non-reactive, non-contaminating, and non-flammable. They also have a minimal risk of leakage, breakage, or explosion.
Customize your coils
Customizing glass coils makes them a great alternative for hard-to-find components as well as long-lasting replacement parts.

Accuracy, Durability, and Performance

A valuable and versatile component of scientific glassware, we make custom glass coils for many different applications. Typically, these applications require efficient heat transfer, fluid flow, or chemical reaction. High-quality materials and precise manufacturing techniques always ensure the accuracy, durability, and performance of our coils.

In addition, our glass coils are more flexible and durable than other types of coils thus improving performance and safety. Therefore, if you are looking for custom glass coils for your scientific or industrial needs, contact Precision Glassblowing today. We are happy to assist you.

high-quality custom coil
Quality materials and precise manufacturing techniques ensure accuracy, durability, and performance.

Please contact your Sales Representative to discuss technical issues or for a quote.