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cdub

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  1. Ah! Thank you. That's a different use of the term "fiber cement" than I'm familiar with (fiber cement also refers to an architectural siding material that's made of Portland cement and cellulose fibers). I believe these planters are made of what's more usually referred to as GFRC (glass fiber reinforced concrete). It works well for large pieces like planters, but it can't be cast in thicknesses less than about 1". Thanks for the suggestion, though -- I appreciate it.
  2. That's interesting: I've never heard of anyone molding fiber cement. Where have you seen that?
  3. I'm not sure. Richlite is dimensionally more stable than wood relative to moisture, but less stable relative to temperature.
  4. I'm pretty familiar with Richlite (I've actually used it as exterior cladding on saunas) but I haven't considered it for this. Offhand, I'm not sure how I would use it here, since it's a panel product; I suppose it could be laminated into a block and shaped. I'm not sure how well it would hold up at sauna temps, or if there would be any offgassing issues with the resins, but it's an interesting idea. It's a great material.
  5. Thanks! I appreciate the feedback. I'll post more if/when a come up with a ceramic prototype. I've done a bit more testing in the last couple of days with unglazed terracotta, and I think durability (impact durability, specifically) will be the main hurdle. It performs really well, otherwise.
  6. The main criteria are low conductivity, thermal and moisture stability, low tooling costs, and "naturalness." The market is predominantly home saunas. Wood is most traditional, and that's where my expertise is, so I started there. In addition to coopered vessels, I've looked at different reductive processes (CNC shaping, mainly) and laminated veneer. Laminated veneer holds some promise, but it's more reliant on adhesives and sealants than I'd like (it's a bit like building a cedar-strip canoe: once you've fiberglassed the whole thing, the wood is largely redundant). I'm also researching thermally modified wood, toughened glass, ceramic-filled nylon, aluminum, stainless steel, copper, polymer modified gypsums, natural rubber, plastics (mostly HPDE and polycarbonate) and bioplastics. Nothing is off the table, yet.
  7. Dismissing an idea because you haven't seen anyone else try it leads directly to the death of all innovation. That might very well be the case here, which is why I'm also researching a number of other materials -- and every single one of them has limitations.
  8. I don't think it's necessarily true that wooden buckets have a longer lifespan that a ceramic vessel in the sauna environment. I've studied cooperage and made a number of wooden sauna buckets myself, and they've failed like all the others I've used. The advice to keep water in a wooden bucket is generally sound, but not for sauna buckets. When the moisture content in the staves becomes too high, the wood fibers compress against the hoops and permanently deform. When the outer portion of the staves later dry in the sauna (temperatures as high as 220°F, relative humidity as low as 5%) the hoops become loose and the bucket fails. For that reason, most manufacturers of sauna buckets recommend that they be filled only during use. They largely don't use wooden buckets, for the reasons I've just described. The best-selling sauna buckets in Scandinavia currently are plastic and aluminum.
  9. I have a single door into my kitchen and into both my bathrooms, and I use ceramics in all three rooms. On the rare occasion that something breaks, I clean it up and go on with my day. They're ceramics, not explosives. I can't think of many contexts where the use of ceramics would be considered "essential." I'm not resistant to logic. I'm resistant to dismissing a material out of hand, only because it has limitations. All material have limitations, and the process of design is largely one of accommodating them. I haven't found any evidence that they have. If I do, I'll add it to my research.
  10. Isn't that a concern for ceramics generally? But we still use them in all sorts of contexts, including bathrooms...?
  11. Some folks do, for sure -- but given the increasing number of alternatives succeeding on the market, I think most people are looking for a good aesthetic, and not necessarily that aesthetic.
  12. Wood is traditional, but galvanized steel is what most people revert to when their wooden buckets fall apart. Wood is generally a great material in a sauna, but neither coopered nor carved wooden vessels hold up. Wooden bucket staves expand and contract until the joints open up and they shed their hoops. The bowls of wooden dippers often split, but that's largely a question of design: they do pretty well if the grain is oriented correctly and the wood isn't too thick -- and they aren't left sitting in water for long periods of time. Liners in wooden buckets have never made sense to me: if the bucket needs a liner to work, you don't really need the bucket. At that point, it's just a handle for the liner -- which is why I'm interested in making a ceramic vessel with a wooden handle. Same idea, just less redundant.
  13. I can't say I know anyone who actually replaces their $40 wooden bucket every few years. Most people buy one, use it until if falls apart, and then use a plastic or galvanized pail to avoid the frustration. I agree, though, that the design has to offer something more than just better durability -- and it will, but that's a design issue as much as it is a material issue.
  14. I agree! I'm just trying to figure out what clays (and glazes, if any) are actually worth trying.
  15. I don't know if it is yet or not. Each of those materials have serious disadvantages: wood falls apart, metal feels hotter, and plastic is a synthetic.
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