Domestic Glassware Manufacture
Tumblers, wine glasses and pint pots are mass-produced using the Westlake machine which was originally developed for blowing bulbs for domestic lamps and radio valves. It has since been adapted for making drinking glasses at a rate of up to 55,000 a day.
Handmade articles are also made through the highly skilled process of glass blowing.
Automatic Domestic Glassware Production - The Westlake Process
The Westlake machine was developed for blowing bulbs for domestic lamps and radio valves at production rates of up to 75,000 a day (gross). It has since been adapted for making drinking glasses, including stemmed ware, at up to 55,000 a day (gross).
The machine copies the action of a handblower in gathering glass from the furnace, forming a parison and blowing the article in a cast iron mould. Twelve pairs of spindles or blowpipes, together with their blowing air valves and past moulds, travel around a central column. The gathering equipment is carried on top of the column and sets of cams are fitted around the column to control the sequence of operations. Glass is gathered by vacuum into a pair of blank moulds and the pairs of blanks are transferred in turn to each pair of spindles. The spindles are rotated and swung down, and air is introduced to form each blank into a parison, controlling the profile and distribution of the glass before blowing the required shape in the wetted mould.
The mould opens and the spindle jaws release the article that is then transferred to the stemming machine. Here the neck formed in the mould is reheated and stretched to the required length. The article then passes to the burn-off machine where oxygen-gas flames remove the "moil" or waste glass, which was originally formed at the gathering position, and the finished piece is conveyed to the lehr for annealing.
In this Section
The oldest examples of glass are Egyptian beads dating from 12,000 BC.