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De Fonbrune Microforge

A metal black metal platform resembling a microscope base sits on a box-like base. The metal platform holds an adjustable optical microscope with a single ocular and objective. The objective is focused on an component consisting of an electrical filament and two tubes, facing the element, that deliver jets of air from opposing directions. Behind this is a circular element that rotates. Near one edge of this platform is a cylindrical post that is a clamp for a glass capillary. At the centre of the rotating element is an opening through which a light shines to illuminate the tip of the glass capillary, the electrical element, and the air jets. The microscope, the filament component, and the tool holding component can all be adjusted in their relative orientation using a number of knurled knobs that protrude from the platform.

Behind this microscope-like platform is a console that forms part of the rear of the box-like wooden base upon which the platform is mounted. This features a series of controls with which the user can adjust such things as the heat of the electrical filament the brightness of the illuminating lamp, and may turn on the air jets. To one side of this base are electrical leads for either 110v or 220v power. From the rear of the base protrudes the circular metallic housing for a centrifugal air pump. Rubber tubing directs this air to connections in the metal platform that lead to the air jets.

A second mount for the electrical filament is fits in a wooden cavity to one side of the wooden base. The filament in this mount is broken.

Accession Number:

Alternative Name: Microforge de Fonbrune

Primary Materials: Wood, Plastic, aluminum, Steel


On the circular plate behind the filament: “MICROFORGE DE FONBRUNE// No 172// BREVETE S.G.D.G”, “C. H. BEAUDOUIN// CONSTr PARIS”

This information is repeated on the instrument’s console and on a small plaque o the front face of the platform supporting the instrument.

The ocular on the instrument’s integrated microscope is labelled as follows: “NACHET-PARIS// H.6x”

The objective lens mounted on the instrument’s integrated microscope is labelled as follows: “NACHET-PARIS// x7// O. N. 0.20 x”

The number “971” has been engraved into the top surface of the instrument’s control console.

Dimensions (cm): Height = 38, Width = 38, Length = 50.


This instrument is used to “forge” delicate and specialized glass tools that can be used in a micromanipulator to interact with microscopic objects, typically living cells. This is done by moving a fine glass capillary relative to the heat of an incandescent electrical filament and the pressure of two air jets. In this manner, fairly elaborate tools can be “forged”.

This instrument was developed alongside the de Fonbrune micromanipulator.


This instrument is in very good condition. A 3/4″ thick plywood base has been added to the instrument, This is lightly scuffed and chipped in places. The black plastic surface on which the microscope element is mounted is lightly scuffed and scratched.

Manufacturer: C. H. Beaudouin, Paris.

Date of Manufacture: c. 1940s.


This artifact was gathered, along with several others items, from the Department of Physics Undergraduate Teaching Lab on 25 Aug 2021.

Additional Information and References:

Fonbrune, Pierre Dussumier de. Technique de micromanipulation. Paris: Masson, 1949.

A more recent version of this instrument is represented in the online collection of the National Museum of American History.

Historical Notes:



  • Donated to UTSIC