Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Incompatibility or Annealing Stress?


Incompatibility or Annealing Stress?

It is sometimes difficult to determine what the cause of any cracks might be.  There are a variety of possibilities with pot melts and other high temperature processes.

Surface of slumped melt



Cracks only on the top of a piece indicate a stress problem. Yes, there may have been a shift in compatibility, due to long soaks at high temperature. It would be a small shift though, or the cracks would have progressed to be more obvious.

Possibilities of healing the cracks relate to the kind of stress. If the stress is from incompatibilities, there is no means of healing the cracks.  Further firing may worsen the problem. 

If the stress cracks are due to the annealing being inadequate, a very slow rise in temperature to about 40°C above the annealing point before going to a full fuse is required. To heal the crack, you will then need to go to full fuse temperature.  This may require dams to reduce the expansion of the piece, if that is critical. Then follow with an annealing that has a longer soak and slower anneal cool than previously used.

Slumping will not help. Yes, the compression may bring the open cracks together, but temperatures are not high enough to heal (if possible) any cracks or imperfections. 

The pattern of splits on the bottom of the slumped piece

In this case splits developed on the bottom during the slumping. The splits on the bottom - if not due to incompatibilities - are usually due to a too rapid rate of advance in temperature in the early stage of the heat up. 

If it is thought that the cracks occurred as a mistaken combination of, say Bullseye and Oceanside, the stress would have been great enough to break the piece completely.  There is too great a mismatch of these two glasses to co-exist in one piece.  Of course, if only one or a few pieces were mixed in, this kind of small crack could occur, but it will normally be around a particular colour.

It is possible that different manufacturers’ glasses were used in this piece. The differences in compatibility can produce mild stress within a piece that do not break immediately.  In high temperature process like this, the incompatibilities will be exaggerated more than in thinner pieces fired at lower temperatures.

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