Traditionally, glassblowing involves the user's and assistant's own mouth and lungs to inflate molten glass. Due to COVID-19 and the requirement for face coverings while working, our team has developed a tool to allow for safe glassmaking: an Alternate Inflation Device. The Alternate Inflation Device controls a compressed air line, stepping down the air pressure to one or two foot pedals that can be independently tuned so the glassblower can have different pressure options.
What inspired you to make this project?:
The Alternate Inflation Device was built to allow glassblowing to continue in the midst of the pandemic. It was necessary to find a new way of blowing glass while keeping the glassmakers' faces covered. This innovation is one of a number of enhanced safety measures designed to keep visitors and staff safe at the Corning Museum of Glass.
What are some of the challenges you have encountered and how did you address them?:
One challenge that arose quickly in the development process was the need for the foot pedal to have maximum flexibility in its placement at the workbench. We addressed this need by switching from a pneumatic to an electric foot pedal that could, with a single-cord connection, be moved all around the glassblower's work area both for their and their assistant's use.
Another challenge was how to share our design and build with the glassblowing community. We created videos and shared them on YouTube. The parts list, designs, diagrams, and schematics are freely available on our website.