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I have some plastic optical fiber, which consists of a thin core of PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate), covered by a fluorinated polymer.

I would like to heat a bundle of these fibers to ~130 degrees, in order to form a simple image guide.

However, I won't start until I know this is safe. Can you help me find out what types of gases I may encounter by heating these materials? Anything known dangerous? What other safety precautions should I take?

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One problem is bonding of the bundle. The contact surface is the fluororesin cladding that allows more nearly perpendicular rays to be totally internally reflected. If you nick the cladding you get a light leak. Will the cladding fuse when heated?

If you ligthly bond a bunch of cylinders you get air gaps where they touch. Those will be a triangular grid off dark spots, 9.3% of the area of the image.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle_packing

circle close packing

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(you've probably done this by now, but...)

Apply some common sense to the quantity you are working with. Are you making this on an industrial scale, or one small item to use in your lab? If the latter, don't worry about it. Unless something massively toxic is expected to come out (VX, for example) just don't go out of your way to breathe the products of the process. Even arsenic won't hurt you in small quantities.

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PMMA melts at 160 °C and ignites in air at 460 °C, forming CO and formaldehyde as toxic gases when burning. Since you are working with a much lower temperature, PMMA should be safe. What type of fluorinated polymer do you want to use?

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, the product I have only states it is made of PMMA and "fluororesin". I have sent them an email to get more detailed information. $\endgroup$ Apr 1 '14 at 15:14

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