Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Firing Rates

Top temperature is, to a small extent, variable between kilns, even from the same manufacturer.  But it is a small part of variations in top temperature required to get the same results in differing kilns.

An example of a firing schedule

It is, more importantly, a function of how the heat is put into the glass. Firing as fast as possible to the top temperature does not allow all the glass to be at the same temperature. This is because glass is a good insulator and the transfer of heat from the top or the sides is relatively slow.  For small things, you can fire very fast, as there is a small mass of glass to absorb the heat.  But a speed of 250°C is fast enough for anything more than 100mm square and at least two 3mm layers thick.  (Thicker glass requires slower rates of advance as surprisingly do single layer projects).  The slower rate of advance allows the glass to be all of a similar temperature from top to bottom, allowing the desired effect to be achieved at lower temperatures or shorter soak times. 

For example, a slower rate of advance will give rounded edges at shorter soak times than a rapid rate of advance will require.  Alternatively, it might require a lower temperature with the same soak time.  Keep in mind that, in general, lower temperatures with slower rates of advance, give better results.

The faster your rate of advance, the more the glass lags behind the air temperature (which is what pyrometers are measuring). Therefore, a reasonable pace will give better results than the as fast as possible rate of advance. 

In short, the variations in top temperature required and length of soak is not about the kiln firing cooler or hotter as much as it is about the firing rate.