The orbiters have always inspired me, but seeing the scorch marks from re-entry make my hair stand. A testament to what your ship must withstand when you move at escape velocity. Fast enough that friction from air molecules will render titanium into plasma.

Thought I might play around with using the smoke stain as a feature…


A test, requiring selective weeding so two files superimposed in different colors. So first I could use a score to cut the mask and differentiate between areas - to allow the stain or not and weed appropriately, then run the engrave with all the features. I will probably do this in a larger scale because it closely matches my imagination.


Way to lean into the medium!


This technique would be even more impressive on tile, due to the higher contrast. Also very appropriate, since the shuttle’s heat shield was made of a high tech ceramic.

Just a thought. :slight_smile:


Yeah, those tiles are ceramic fiber, created by shredding molten silica with high velocity gas. The stuff is used in industry as a thermal insulator, kind of a matted cotton-like fabric. You can hold it up to your ear and hear it crunch as you squeeze it.
What makes the shuttle tiles unique is that each of the hair-like strands stacked next to others, straight line. I dunno, but I imagine that’s not easy to do. The material’s thermal insulation properties are unparalleled…

These great ships were a “symphony of engineering”.


Until damaged by a piece of ice from launch… :scream:

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I was gonna say what @timjedwards said, but he beat me to it. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


You don’t get smoke when you engrave tile – would defeat the whole point of the exercise. :wink:


They put a great deal into the tile but discovered that their big problem was the glue to put the tiles on with. BTW if the tiles were silicone they would melt away, but are instead Alumina that is both far more heat resistant and stiffer when it is finally molten,

I have used the ceramic fiber in insulation situations and why it is called ceramic fiber and not fiberglass that is silicon.

My understanding is silica
Thanks for catching my misstatement.

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Interesting but I think personal experience and ceramic chemistry rabbit hole exploration in this case beats Wikipedia.

We built a Blacksmiths forge from a big truck wheel and happened to have ceramic blanket and Mullite handy and so lined it with that. There was also about a square foot of fiber extra.

Normally when you turn off the air the forge goes out quickly and has to be relit. But when we went to lunch I tossed the loose bit on top and off we went for over two hours. When we got backed cranked up the blower and the forge was still lit.

The fiber comes in several grades set mostly by aluminum content that the highest is also the most expensive, but the calories it takes to be white hot ate few and I have held molten iron in my hand with three inches of fiber in between and it was not even warm.


Hmmm… I didn’t know that.

Sadly, my Glowforge has languished in storage awaiting its (and my) new home. The new year will hopefully be a creative one for us.

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This is quite possibly the most amazing thing I’ve seen here in a long time!

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I do like that staining technique! :sunglasses::+1:

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Thank you for the education. :sunglasses:
My experience is only with application in industrial furnaces and kilns. Being exposed to it required a higher understanding on my part, and that was the information available to me. Avoid silicosis and I’m fine.

It was asbestosis that drove the research.