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Fiber Rope

This is one of a series of tips on refractory materials, including ceramic fiber.  Click here to go to a general discussion of fiber.

Fiber rope is a refractory material that is made from ceramic fibers that have been twisted together (or braided).  The rope, which is available in several different thicknesses and densities, is generally as an insulator or packing material to line gaskets, kiln doors, or furnaces. 

For most kiln-forming applications, fiber rope tends to be used more for its ability to impart interesting textures to glass than as an insulating material. The rope is made from the same kind of material as fiber paper or board, so it can be slumped over or even used in a casting or fully fused piece. 

In some situations glass may stick slightly to the fiber rope, so it's a good idea to lightly sift over the rope with alumina or kiln wash powder before using.  (You can even dip into the rope into a liquid solution if desired.)  Hardening with a rigidizer is not necessary. 

The rope does contain a small amount of binder, which will burn off at around 1000F/538C.  Generally, you can get away without pre-firing.  The fiber rope will shrink slightly when fired for the first time.

Also, the ends of the rope will fray after several firings, and the fiber rope will become slightly brittle after a while.  But it will last a long time (especially if only heated to slumping temperatures), and is an excellent way to add an interesting texture to slumped pieces. 

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Copyright 2006 Brad Walker.  All rights reserved.

One of the major manufacturers of fiber rope is Unifrax.  Their website, www.unifrax.com, has more information on different types of fiber ropes, braids, and wicking.

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