Thread: cullet shortage
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Old 03-17-2018, 02:07 PM
Bob Meyer Bob Meyer is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Oregon
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I'm wondering whether anyone has done any side-by-side comparisons of furnace wear with a boron and non-boron glass. So far, it seems that conclusions about this have been based on anecdote and theory. Obviously, some people are likely to draw conclusions far earlier than others, e.g., one local glassblower who is loathing the idea of switching from nuggets because he says the boron will "eat up his pot" (something that even Pete has admitted he hasn't heard of). But it seems like a concept that could use more substantiation. I've been impressed in the past about the side-by-side studies done with things like recuperation by people in this group. The kind of variables that make side-by-side comparisons useful for recuperation, I would think, are just as substantial regarding furnace wear from boron. Plus, it seems that the kind of glass we use - and the damage it might cause - could represent an even greater impact than the amount of fuel we burn.

I've been through all the Spectrum products (studio and premium, boron and non-boron nuggets) ever since the nuggets first came out, and I can't say I've observed any difference in furnace wear between any of them. Each had it's own working qualities, certainly, but that seemed to be the extent of the differences.

We've been using Cristalica for a month or two now, and we've all (myself and 2 other guys) have experienced a notable improvement in a number of working qualities over any of the nuggets. It's a real pleasure to work with - I'm guessing maybe closer to what you SP batch people get to experience. For us (and me in particular, being the one that gets to pay for the furnace maintenance), I'd much rather be using the Cristalica - even with the theoretical possibility of furnace damage - than using, especially, the non-boron nuggets. I'd go so far as to say that I wouldn't switch back to the non-boron nuggets now even if they were available. I'd guess that a lot of the wire melters will experience a similar difference, and faced with the known quantity of better workability vs. the theoretical possibility of furnace damage, the choice may not be difficult even if there were alternatives.

As Pete has said, we wire melters don't have much choice. But that's not so bad - I'm really liking the Cristalica a lot, and will likely stick with it unless I see something like a notable premature aging of my furnace, the price skyrocketing, or them not being able to keep up with demand - all possible downsides that have been discussed here. I'm not blind to the possibilities, thanks to the information presented here, but I also don't see any reason to get too worked up before any of it actually happens. For now, at least, I'm just thoroughly enjoying being able to work with such a high-quality glass.
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