Rotary Microtome

Sartorius Göttingen 


By Dushan Grujich, on September 15th. 2013


Sartorius is German company which makes instruments for laboratory use, the largest part of their production are precision scales and laboratory balances, in past mechanical, and in modern times digital.

Company was founded by Florenz Sartorius in 1870 in Göttingen, then a part of Prussia. It was started as a small workshop for making and repairing scientific instruments, serving needs of Göttingen university.  

Sartorius had his balance patented and by 1898 he had twelve employees so he moved his production company at Weende Landstraße in Göttingen, with the company headquarters still located there today.  

The microtome part of the business was Sartorius' acquisition of the August Becker's company, from Göttingen in 1906. which dates this microtome to being not older more than 106 years.

The rotary microtome, serial number 6288, is type that clamps to the bench edge for secure operation. 

It is operated by handle mounted on a heavy flywheel on the right hand side.

It is built of cast iron, very precisely, it is provided with the means for very precise adjustment of the vertical ways in order to allow accurate and highly repeatable cutting action. 


Microtome is equipped with a mechanism that advances the paraffin embedded specimen in steps of 5 µm, from 5 µm up to 30 µm.

Thickness of sections is adjustable by setting the lever (as shown on the image to the right) to line up with the marking of the wanted thickness. 

Most of modern rotary microtomes are built utilising the same basic principles. Each turn of the flywheel advances the embedded specimen towards the blade, producing one section, each joined to the preceding one forming a ribbon.

Microtome blades of the "C" form shown in their box are intended for use in this rotary microtome.

Blades are very sharp and are quite capable of cutting bone deep into a finger before any sensation of pain is felt, hence, there is need of very careful handling,