Lecture 011.010

THE WEAR AND TEAR OF POLYURETHANE ELASTOMERS
BY SUZAN DE GROOT, ANNA LAGANA, THEA VAN OOSTEN ET AL

Polyurethane (PUR) elastomers, developed in 1940’s in Ger- many, are rubber-like materials, created from various components with a wide variety of properties and can be moulded into almost any shape. Due to their versatility, easiness to work with and availability, PUR elastomers are nowadays very popular among designers and artists and therefore very common in museum collections.
The condition of an object made of PUR elastomer is related to changes by several internal and external factors. High humidity and exposure to light are external factors affecting the condition. Inappropriate manufacturing is one of the internal factors affecting the service life of an object.
In this study the composition and behaviour of artists made PUR elastomer was compared with the composition and behaviour of PUR elastomers fabricated as multiple production design objects. For this purpose the artwork Finestre II made by Loris Cecchini and a Soft vase designed by Hella Jongerius, which is part of an unlimited production since 1994, were studied.
Research included Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) and Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (py-GCMS) for the identification of the composition of all materials and degradation products.
Making test samples according to the making process of the artwork and manual of the manufacturer was another part of the research. Artificially heat ageing in order to mimic degradation was performed on the test samples and dummies. Methods for the conservation and adhering for the case studies are proposed.

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