Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Reversibility of Boron Nitride

After using Zyp/MR97, can I sand it off and use kiln wash?

Some people are applying boron nitride to ceramic moulds for the "smoother" surface.  Boron nitride is an excellent separator for metal moulds and casting moulds whether metal or ceramic. But it has limitations, including the price and requirement for a repeated application at each firing.  Some are beginning to wonder if they can go back to kiln wash after having used the boron nitride. Some say you cannot unless you sand off the separator.

The general experience has been that you can't apply kiln wash on top of the boron nitride. It just beads up and flows off, because the boron nitride creates a non-wetting surface that survives relatively high temperatures.  The water in the kiln wash mixture merely beads up or washes away. This means the kiln wash in suspension has no opportunity to adhere to the mould.

The most accepted way to get rid of the boron nitride is by sandblasting. Then apply kiln wash as normal. The sandblasted ceramic mould previously coated accepts kiln wash with no difficulty. In the absence of a sandblaster, you can use a sanding pad. You do need to be cautious about taking the surface of the mould when using abrasive removal methods, as the ceramic is relatively soft in relation to the abrasive materials.

The difficulty of removal of the boron nitride means that you have to think carefully about which moulds you put it onto.  If the mould has delicate or fine detail, removing the boron nitride risks the removal of some of the detail.  This indicates that this kind of mould, once coated, should not be taken back to the bare mould to change the kind of separator.

Another use of boron nitride is to spray a very small amount on a fiber strip to be used for damming. This will give you fewer needles as it provides a non-wetting surface at relatively high temperatures. This allows the glass to slide down the fibre paper without hanging up and creating the needles.

One advantage of kiln wash over boron nitride is that you do not have to reapply every firing as with boron nitride. With the boron nitride you need to apply before every firing.  It is best to use a paint brush to dispose of any lose material before giving a light re-coating. Not a whole lot is required on subsequent coatings.

If you are using boron nitride to get a smoother surface to the object, consider using a lower slumping or draping temperature, as this will also minimise mould marks.  

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