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 “The smallest tube ever made” with a diameter of just 26/10,000th inch manufactured by Superior Tube in 1939


The World’s smallest tube

The 1930s was the decade that saw the birth of Superior Tube Company. In 1934, Clarence A. Warden Sr, Clarence A. Warden Jr, S. L. Gabel and Richard H. Gabel founded the company near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From the very outset, the company was involved in the manufacture of small diameter, extremely close tolerance metal tubing for industries whose products were changing the world.

By the end of the decade, Superior Tube became one of the nation’s largest producers of seamless, stainless steel hypodermic needle tubing, contributing greatly to the development of medical practice, including the design and need for needle specification. It had also been granted its first US patent for the breakthrough design of a cathode component for the thermionic valves on which the radios of the day depended.

Superior Tube even took advantage of the 1939 New York World’s Fair to demonstrate that it had the capability to meet technological demands beyond those its customers yet required. On display was “the smallest tube ever made” – a tube with a total diameter of just 26/10,000th of an inch – which Superior Tube had manufactured purely for the sake of the exhibition – and just to demonstrate that they could.

There is a claim that tubes of this scale....are used for the artificial insemination of mosquitoes!