Friday, February 27, 2009
Entering the Film and Video department, I found a composite material immediately in the interior window of the administrative offices. These window panes are of a composite material physically assembled of glass imbedded with metal wire. The two materials combine to heighten the thermal capabilities of glass. Although an outmoded version of fire-resistant glass, this material is of interest now because this is a relatively sustainable substance; the two primary materials can be separated and recycled easily. In addition to the environmental advantages and thermal property changes, visually this combination has led to a slightly obscured glass. In this case, it’s unclear whether the minimal barrier created by the wire is beneficial or detrimental.
The next material which captured my attention was this curious wall panel in one of the classrooms. The purpose and ingredients of this panel are unclear to me, but the various layers peeling away at the edges reveal a composite nature. Here the compound structure seems to fail as much of the outer layer is flaking away. The crumbling nature of this material may cause negative health effects as the dust is let loose in the air. Perhaps this degradation is a result of age, friction or a chemical reaction. Maybe functionally this panel is intended to enhance the acoustics in this room which is a guess made based on the video viewing equipment perched in the rear.
Looking down I began to explore another composite material at my feet. The terrazzo flooring in the hallways is made of marble chips imbedded in a resin. This combination is an inexpensive, visually similar alternative to solid marble. Terrazzo is very stable chemically and mechanically and exhibits some sustainable attributes. While it could recycle bits of leftover marble, the new material cannot be recycled or separated into its components at the end of its life.
Following that hallway to the end, I found another composite material to examine. A series of woven window shades made of vinyl and fiberglass fibers form light filtering protection from the sun’s glare and heat. Environmentally, the ingredients used in this material are harmful. In addition, the tightly woven nature of the fibers prevents reuse of the separate components in the future.
The final material of interest is this textile hanging on the wall of the video-editing computer lab. While not a conventional composite material, this project exhibits key characteristics and lends them visible at a large scale. This handmade mesh is composed of several ordered components (paper, feathers, yarn and felt) all woven together somewhat randomly, similar to a polycrystalline structure and Van der Waals bonding. I am unaware of any performance criteria for the creation of this material besides holding itself together as the application seems purely decorative.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
I started looking for materials which could be applied on students’ work. What I first found interest was an electronic circuit. An Electronic circuit is a closed path formed by the interconnection of electronic components through which an electric current can flow. The electronic circuits may be physically constructed using any number of methods. Breadboards, perfboards or stripboards are common for testing new designs. Electronic circuits can display highly complex behaviors, even though they are governed by the same laws of physics as simpler circuits. Electronic circuits can usually be categorized as analog, discrete, or mixed-signal (a combination of analog and discrete) electronic circuits. Basically, students who already have engineering background make this electronic circuit to create their work. I was very interested in this material because of its magical (to me) function and elaborate structure. However, in terms of “composite material”, I would say the electrical circuit composes of several composites such as energy source (batteries and generators), output source(motor, lamp, display) and connection(wire, cable).
Entering the intaglio studio, my eyes were immediately drawn to the huge Hazard Information poster up on the wall. It appears that the process of intaglio employs materials both ‘natural’ (meaning can be found as in earth for example, the copper plate that the image is incised on) and composite materials (ferric chloride bath for the newly incised plate), several of which are rather harmful to the human body.The Intaglio Studio
Finally, the paper to print on, a composite material but one that has been in use for a very long time.
The studio was a mix of both modern and traditional equipment – from the huge manual press to the number of bottles and jars littering pockets of the studio. Just looking at the chemicals inside those containers made me wonder how much of these composite materials were newly introduced as new technology was created and how much was retained. There is an entire history of everyday chemicals that I am so unaware of – like all the composite materials that are formed through a chemical process: baby oil, vinegar, alcohol, petroleum jelly, gum Arabic, etc. But there are also natural materials in use such as water, salt and copper. Timing is also critical in this process where leaving the incised copper plate in the acid bath can damage the image or the pressing the paper onto the inked copper plate needs to be done immediately.
This is the glass piece I found on the floor at the Glass department.
I assume one of the students threw away, but I was really interested in its follow form and texture on the surface. It was beautiful to me so that I took it back to my studio. Glass is made out of mainly silicca and other components such as sodium carbonate. When it is cold, it gets hard and brittle and the color looks transparent because of the low temperature and the surrounding pressure. When it is in high temperature, it gets melted and its color observe the frame color inside the kiln and looks orange-yellow. Glass is also non-electroconductivity. According to our reading, glass is an amorphous non-crystalline structure linked by covalent bonds.
This is the safety eyeglasses when people are doing hot glass. Since the heat and bright color radiating from the hot glass is extremely strong, people have to protect their eyes. This includes silicote-1 scratch resistant, silicote-6 chemical resistant, clear UV absorbing, X-3 antifog, and metalized heat reflective. This composite materials are intended for high-performance applications where their properties are engineered for specific purposes. By wearing it, people are able to work whole day without any uncomfortableness.
This is the plaster mold I found in the basement of the metcalf building. Usually plaster is sold in the form of dry powder. When it is mixed with water, it re-forms into a paste phase which liberates heat and hardens. Plaster expands while hardening, then contracts slightly just before hardening completely. Dislocation at the micro-scale level might be happening and it allows moving freely and stays ductile. Unlike cement, plaster remains quite soft after drying, and can be easily manipulated with metal tools or even sandpaper. This makes plaster excellent for use in molds, and it is often used as an artistic material for casting. Plaster might be suitable for a finishing, rather than a load-bearing material. After the plaster mold gets hardens, hot melting glass is ready to pour.
This is the alginate mold for cold glass casting. It is a viscous gum. It ranges from white to yellowish-brown, and takes granular and powdered forms. Because its structure is a linear copolymer, like plaster, it also has dislocations quality. Alginate is originally used for dentistry mold making. When it is mixed with water, it absorbs water quickly and gets solid, but keeps moisture in it, like really dry version of pudding. It provides highly details of objects you chose. The picture above is one of my experimentation with alginate mold. I inserted my finger and got really high quality of details in wax.
This is my hand out of the paraffin wax. I created it using alginate mold. After alginate gets solid. I poured the melting paraffin wax. Paraffin wax is sold in a solid form but when it is in a high temperature, it loosese its tension and becomes a liquid so that I can pour it into the mold. According to Wikipedia, it says "Paraffin wax (or simply "paraffin", but see alternative name for kerosene, above) is mostly found as a white, odorless, tasteless, waxy solid, with a typical melting point between about 47 °C to 64 °C ( 116.6°F to 147.2°F), and having a density of around 0.9 g/cm3.
It was really fun to look at things in a microscale level. I would like to continue on practicing in this way.