Born near Lakeland, Florida, Pipkin attended Alabama Polytechnic Institute and received a Batchelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering in 1913 and a Master's in 1915. In 1917 Pipkin enlisted in the US Army  and was assigned work on gas masks. His wartime work was at the General Electric Nela Park laboratory in Cleveland where he remained after the war.
In 1925 Pipkin developed a process for etching the inside of a lamp bulb with acid, using a two-step process so that the lamp would not be excessively weakened. In 1947 a silica coating process also invented by Pipkin replaced the etching. 
Pipkin retired back to Lakeland in 1954, and died of cancer in 1977.
- (U.S. Patent No. 1,687,510)
- (U.S. Patent No. 2,545,896)
- http://fpc.dos.state.fl.us/memory/Collections/WWI/card.cfm?intOurDocID=21959 Marvin Pipkin's induction card retrieved March 21, 2008
- Incandescent Lamps, General Electric Technical Publication TP 110,Nela Park, 1964 page 3