How It’s Made:
The world’s largest glass tube

The world’s largest industrially manufactured glass tube recently made its debut. Produced in Mitterteich, Germany, its 18-inch outer diameter is bigger than a large New York City pizza.

SCHOTT further developed their manufacturing method to produce this world-record tube. Measuring 18 inches wide and 60 inches long, with a wall thickness of about a third of an inch, this glass tube still retains superb optical and surface quality. But manufacturing this tube was no simple task.

Glass tubing, a long-standing technical product with numerous applications, is still brimming with potential. This tube opens up new application possibilities for architecture, retail, and the chemical and biological industries, among others.

Understanding the manufacturing challenges

Manufacturing large outer diameter tubes is challenging in that they tend to collapse under their own weight. SCHOTT overcame this limitation by further developing the drawing process to enable the production of large outer diameter tubes.

While the size of the tube played a key role in this production method, it was not the only factor that scientists had to keep in mind. SCHOTT enhanced the manufacturing process to not only increase the production size of glass tubes, but also preserve their high visual clarity and surface quality — two important features for glass tubes, especially for use in lab wares and display cases.

The capabilities of large glass tubing

The applications for large-diameter tubes are vast, stretching across various industries and numerous uses. The large tubes are made of DURAN borosilicate glass, which ensures visual quality, high chemical resistance, and low thermal expansion throughout a wide range of applications. For that reason, these tubes can withstand harsh lab environments, acting as development and production reactors for lab ware and biological applications.

But tubing of this size and scope isn’t confined to such applications. These large tubes can be used as display cases in a retail store, showcasing the latest fashion accessories and electronic devices, or function as unique features in architecture designs, such as partition walls or facades.

Glass is a material with seemingly endless possibilities, and SCHOTT has mastered the ability to form glass tubing to fit highly specialized needs. While limitations still exist, the record-breaking glass tube from SCHOTT unlocks the boundaries of design and expands the opportunity for innovations in the manufacturing and development process.

May 27, 2015


Suzann Erben
SCHOTT North America, Inc.