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-   -   Speaking of cullet (http://talk.craftweb.com/showthread.php?t=10595)

Jordan Kube 04-14-2015 02:15 PM

Speaking of cullet
 
2 Attachment(s)
Last week we received cullet from Spectrum that was full of stones. This was regular nuggets not the 2.0. We ended up with over 250 seconds from this bad glass. Needless to say it cost the company a lot of time and money.

One bag from 4/3/15 had 47 stones per 50 pound bag. Another from 3/21/15 had 39 stones per 50 pound bag. I do not have the lot numbers because the chargers charged and tossed the bags. I should have put them in a different spot.

They mostly look like small little pieces of AZS. Very white. We had two Spectrum engineers out to look at them. OCR replaced all our cullet with good cullet and Spectrum is looking into it on their end. The replacement cullet from around the same date seems fine.

The easiest way to look for these stones is to pour out 20-30 nuggets at a time into a pan or container that is filled with water so it just covers the nuggets. It makes the surface defects disappear and lets you see into the nugget easier.

Quality control seems to have been on vacation or just non existent. Very disappointing. Hopefully they get the message. It would be nice to have an alternative available.

I can hear Pete crowing all the way from Seattle!

Pete VanderLaan 04-14-2015 02:59 PM

I'm not crowing, I think it's really scary to be dependent on cullet. Studio history has taught me that cullet is a transitory kind of material that disappears. We started with this stuff called Keystone cullet and it was .02 lb. Worked great. We all told each other about our great find and everyone started to order it. Keystone had never seen so many sales and "Hey, clear is clear" and they threw every kind of clear glass they could find in the barrels. It was just pure junk and Keystone was quietly abandoned in less than two years.

Then came Gabbert, a seemingly endless supply of factory drops. As the shops in West Virginia failed, ultimately so has the gabbert connection. Gone is Louis cullet, Fenton, gone. This will not stop in this country with the exception of bottle glass coming out of Northwest or Anchor Hocking in New Jersey and it isn't workable with the color rods.

So, the complaint is that Spruce Pine batch is unpleasant. Cullet is so easy until of course you get victimized like Jordan did. If the AZS is starting to come out of the furnace, it's unlikely to stop. Spruce Pine has had a nightmare experience with their continuous melter. Bottom line is that everyone is depending on these sources and that is a very dangerous thing to do. While SP87 batch may not be as easy as dumping bags of cullet in the tank, the truth is it will always be better glass and is always available. Every time a glass gets melted, it gets shorter. There is nothing quite like a fresh batch if you're fussy- and you should be. I've been revising mine again, pushing the potassium content up, the soda down and getting pure alumina in while abandoning feldspar entirely. The glass is just stunning the color just gets better and better and it's coming out of a three year old High Temp pot.

The cautionary tale here is that you should insure yourselves by learning how to make glass from raw materials or to always have SP87 as a batch on hand. If you think that you can always rely on cullet companies, experience tells me you're really wrong.

Art Freas 04-14-2015 03:25 PM

Jordan, sent you a PM.

Pete VanderLaan 04-14-2015 03:27 PM

but the fact that no one noticed at Spectrum is kind of interesting.

Edward Skeels 04-14-2015 04:08 PM

Had stones in spectrum 96 but couldn't tell where they came from. Thought it was the crown. Good tip for looking at the nuggets in water.
Did find a hex head machine bolt once In a sack. Real confidence builder. Glad that's behind me.

Pete VanderLaan 04-14-2015 04:26 PM

I do recall the mixer at SP disintegrating a long time ago. Kind of like crackerJacks with a surprise in every bag.

Jordan Kube 04-14-2015 06:19 PM

You just gotta look through the bags. Not as terrible as it sounds once you get a system down. If you don't find stuff in the first 50 nuggets you probably won't find them in the rest. Spectrum does have a tolerance for inclusions and we were 150% over.

Pete VanderLaan 04-14-2015 06:48 PM

well, you are making pretty tiny things if it's the votif things. If you were at four or five gathers, I'd imagine a stone in every piece based on what I think I understand you to be saying. I think it would be completely unacceptable.

Peter Bowles 04-14-2015 07:05 PM

We had the same about five years ago. We ordered about 5 tonnes of the 96 nuggets specifically for an architectural project we were working on. The stuff was absolutely riddled with stone. Some of it sharp and very white and quite small (around 1mm), most of it was grey and 2-3-4 mm and sometimes 5-6 mm across. Also all sorts of iron streaks and undissolved silica through some of it.

Absolutely riddled with the stuff - very shoddy indeed.

Saw the same at ACAD a couple of years ago too, though not to the extent we had it in our shipment.

Spectrum didn't seem to care and I get the feeling they were just happy to unload what must have been known as a second rate material to an overseas customer.

Pretty shoddy really.

Greg Vriethoff 04-14-2015 09:54 PM

About four years ago I was working with a company to get a new product developed. It took weeks to nail-down clean product that met community standards. Feedback from first round users was generally positive. Then either by accident, or in order to meet the growing demand, a batch got out that should not have. Backlash was severe enough to essentially kill the campaign.

Spectrum is in the catbird seat right now in terms of boutique cullet. With SP on indefinite hiatus, I assume their demand is greater. That's a double-edged sword in my opinion.

Glad I'm not involved with any of it anymore.

Pete VanderLaan 04-15-2015 05:46 AM

I would be real interested in whether they are batch or furnace stones at this point. Furnace stones don't have to be smooth but batch stones should be correctable if there's the remotest QC.

This seems to fit in with the attitude taken regarding incompatibility of the clears with each other. Doesn't seem like a particularly ethical bunch people are flocking to. SP87 keeps sounding better to me all the time. This sounds a whole lot like my caution about cullet supplies. I simply forgot to include Seattle Batch in that process. Given the number of times I get pieces returned for the slightest inclusions, I'm really surprised that this hasn't been more of a public issue.

There is an opportunity out there for someone who really wants to ruin their life completely

Glenn Randle 04-15-2015 08:03 AM

DIY Cullet ?
 
I know a lot of studios use cullet because they have wire melters and can't get hot enough to melt batch.

Most of the other studios like it because they can charge quicker, because it melts (or remelts) and fines out quicker than batch.

I melt batch and like it, but of course I melt the cullet when I'm restarting my furnace after it's been shut down. I've also tested a bag the SP bowties that they gave me to try. Cullet is great for topping off the pot mid-week and it blows fine for the thick work I make.

Since it's not readily available I wonder about making my own cullet for remelting when I'm in a bit of a time crunch. Since I make large work I always have to charge when the pot is about 1/2 full, since the last gather hits the bottom of the pot. I'm thinking if I emptied the pot, making cullet, the batch charge will obviously take a bit longer, but the glass quality will improve since it's 100% batch. Then I can use it to top off the pot, say Tuesday after blowing and have a full pot again Wednesday morning.
Is this a practical thing to do? It seems like it might add some scheduling flexibility.

David Patchen 04-15-2015 12:49 PM

Note to self: never use any Spectrum products. That kind of sub-par quality control is shameless.

Greg Vriethoff 04-15-2015 03:16 PM

You'll have to give up System 96, David.

Pete VanderLaan 04-15-2015 03:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Glenn Randle (Post 123472)
I know a lot of studios use cullet because they have wire melters and can't get hot enough to melt batch.

*******
Perfect, first build inadequate furnaces that are really underinsulated ceramic kilns that were never designed for continuous operation and then, since it can't melt quality products because it's under-engineered, then supply cullet with stones in it.

Studio glass sometimes seems involved in one big major fail.

David Patchen 04-15-2015 04:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Greg Vriethoff (Post 123475)
You'll have to give up System 96, David.

I use the stuff made by Uroboros, not Spectrum.

Pete VanderLaan 04-15-2015 04:59 PM

I'd be a bit surprised if that really turns out to be accurate David. Those two companies are partners in system 96. Uroboros tends to make sheet glass at 96 but it's all one big ball of wax.

Jordan Kube 04-15-2015 05:30 PM

Uroboros is awesome.

To be fair, I've never had any problems with any other Spectrum products. They make an excellent inexpensive casting glass and their colored sheet glass is great.

Also, Phil got this resolved for us very quickly.

Jordan Kube 04-15-2015 05:31 PM

All of the rod material is made at Uroboros.

Pete VanderLaan 04-15-2015 06:33 PM

It may well have been resolved but it's also a continuing saga. Not good. Once is fine. Twice is not so fine. more...? If the clear from one supplier is too often junk, and the other half fine, it's still kind of junky and rather unpredictable which is also not good.
While it may be the case that one side supplies the color and the other the clear and everything matches and we go off down the garden path, It's not so good when one half supplies a QC lacking product. That hurts Uroboros ultimately. I suspect that they can't supply clear in the volume necessary to operate independently of Spectrum.

Every cullet supplier before this had the same history.

Tom Fuhrman 04-15-2015 09:45 PM

Has any cullet producer ever supplied good glass in large quantities consistently? I don't think so. no one will pay the price for what's involved. Making 100,000's of lb. of this stuff per month to make a few cents per lb. is not a good business model to make a decent profit and a good product. There's a reason Bullseye gets well over $5/lb. for their products and Schott gets more like $8-12/lb. as Pete has always said, it's expensive to make good glass. In addition, quality control doesn't come cheap. All the big guys have learned this the hard way. Most of the large glass companies in this country are now history. i.e. Lancaster, Anchor, Fenton, Smith, St. George Crystal, Jeanette, Colony, Steuben,. do I need to go on?

Dave Bross 04-16-2015 05:16 AM

If you're batching your own you can make batch that goes down like a charm in a wire melter. The magic word is Lithium, and SP has quite a large percentage of it in there.

Cullet is like all your other pleasurable vices...so easy...feels so good...until.....

Pete VanderLaan 04-16-2015 05:46 AM

It's not large at .5%. When it was first being tested decades go, it had more but was too corrosive. It was then cut and has been parked at .5% for years unless Tom has changed it.

You could indeed make a batch with lithium that would melt easily in a wire unit but it will attack the furnace as well as the pot. Also, Lithium is expensive stuff.

Pete VanderLaan 04-16-2015 05:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tom Fuhrman (Post 123485)
Has any cullet producer ever supplied good glass in large quantities consistently? I don't think so. no one will pay the price for what's involved. Making 100,000's of lb. of this stuff per month to make a few cents per lb. is not a good business model to make a decent profit and a good product. There's a reason Bullseye gets well over $5/lb. for their products and Schott gets more like $8-12/lb. as Pete has always said, it's expensive to make good glass. In addition, quality control doesn't come cheap. All the big guys have learned this the hard way. Most of the large glass companies in this country are now history. i.e. Lancaster, Anchor, Fenton, Smith, St. George Crystal, Jeanette, Colony, Steuben,. do I need to go on?

*********
As Harvey once said to me : You can make it a secondary product but you can't make it a primary product.

The product has to have enough of a profitability to make quality control justifiable which is what sank Seattle batch cullet, ( among other things). The troubles always start when there's no time to make that a priority. Raw materials change with mine runs. Moisture is always a problem and expensive furnace liners wear out while fuel costs rise. I have not seen anyone yet who relied on cullet that did not ultimately hit a wall. While I don't think it's at a crisis level yet, I think it will come to be a major supply interruption for people that rely on it. A backup plan is a really good idea. Right now, cullet is supplied from a sole source in the trade and that's really bad. The price could be jacked to $1.50- 2.00 lb and there's nothing anyone could do about it without an alternative that currently doesn't exist.

Pringle Teetor 05-01-2015 05:14 PM

5 Attachment(s)
after my last post about sp cullet we went ahead and ordered a new batch of Sys 96. Glass still looks like crap. Lots of random bubbles here and there. Last saturday we scraped the pot and I went through 2 bags piece by piece. found a lot of stuff that looked like this


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