This week we did Composites. I work a lot with composites in my research, so I figured it would be fun and familiar. It turned out to be a lesson in why toxic materials are BAD.
I wanted to make a step stool for my daughter who is only about 30 lbs now. I always liked sculptures with very life-like fabric draping, so I thought I'd try to make something like that. I got a bunch of the Hemp Linen and a small trash can for the mold. Usually we work with Epoxy resin, but I had recently bought some polyester resin to experiment with-- since it's cheaper, but considered almost as strong. I donned my gas mask since I was going to be directly in the cloud of the fumes and set about laying up the piece.
All went well until I took my mask off and realized to how horribly toxic the smell was. My lab is pretty well ventilated, but I hadn't been working directly in the hood because the piece was so big and I figured the windows and ceiling vents would take care of it. I was wrong. The fumes leaked out into the hallway and the building was nearly evacuated. My adviser had to spend an hour pacifying EHS. What a mess.
At least the piece came out looking nice. It's definitely not strong enough to stand on, but I found other uses for it:
I also wanted to try some of the other resins so I made miniature versions of this same piece using both the Smooth On Task 9 and the Smooth On Smooth Cast 310.
These are both pretty strong but I don't think either would be strong enough in a large scale to hold 30 lbs.