Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Writing Your Own Schedules

Most introductory kilns are now being supplied with pre-set schedules. This can make moving on to the schedules you need for the new work you are doing appear to be difficult.

The first thing is to get the print-out of the pre-programmed schedules and determine what each stage of the programme is designed to achieve. If you compare the programme temperatures with a description of what is happening with the glass at that temperature, you will be going a significant distance to making your own schedule with an understanding of what you will be achieving with each stage of your purpose made schedule. A very good guide to what is happening to glass at various temperatures is this note from Bullseye. This also has the advantage of telling you what happens with different thicknesses of glass.

Next compare the pre-programmed schedules with those printed on the manufacturer's website, for example:

So, now you know what temperatures you are trying to achieve, how fast should you go to get to that temperature? I have developed a guideline that the initial rate of advance should be no more than twice the rate of your initial cooling rate for the final piece. This means that you start planning the schedule from the annealing portion of the full schedule. If you will have a final flat thickness of 6mm, the annealing rate will be around 80ºC, so the initial heat up rate could be about 160ºC. This is a conservative rate, and experience will guide you to how much quicker you can heat up the glass. This initial heating phase can be all the way up to the bubble squeeze/ slumping temperature, but must be to a temperature at least 40ºC above the annealing point.

There are at least three elements that will reduce this initial rate to less than this general guidance: Thicker pieces need more care. The more layers, the more difficult it is to get the heat to the bottom layer, so slower rates of advance are needed. The greater the unevenness in thickness, the slower the rate of advance.

There are, of course many other variables relating to the kiln, some of which are:
Side or top elements
Distance to the elements – side or top
Distance to the sides of the kiln
Placement in the kiln – e.g.,floor or shelf and how high
Nature of the firing surface – e.g., ceramic, fibre board, fibre paper
Placing in relation to the hot and cool spots in the kiln
How the glass is supported - especially on a slump or drape

At the initial stages of learning about fusing schedules, you need to make notes of all these things (and the results) on your firing records so that you can refer back to get guidance on what rates of advance are acceptable for any given firing.

Part 2