Cellulomold is a unique cellulose-based composite material used in protective, decorative, and structural applications. It is unique to Petalcap Vale and its attendant holdings, where it sees frequent use in Vale Mechatronics products.
Physical & Chemical Properties
Cellulomold is significantly denser and harder than the wood or mushroom flesh it originally was. The air within the pores of the material has been pressed vacuumed away, then replaced with plant resin to create a surprisingly durable composite material. Cellulomold fragments remain around as flammable as their base material, however; though the porosity (and thus much of the surface area and trapped oxidizer) is gone, the water is also gone, and the resin chosen can be flammable in its own right. Additional chemical treatments can render cellulomold significantly more resistant to combustion.
History & Usage
verdial peoples have been making use of intentionally-hardened wood since before even the advent of the written word. Classical Verdials would peen and fire temper wood or mushroom flesh to achieve a similar effect, though these were still not nearly as hard as the modern product. Resin was also used for artisanal work, though usually as a laquer, adhesive, polish, or sculpting material rather than part of laminates or composites. Metallurgy and the develoment of wood-bending by late Classical Verdials further advanced the state of the art. Finally, the introduction of vacuum chambers in Rostran technical manuals left by Eqai Voiranoi and his crew gave the Vale Verdials the last pieces of information they needed to combine disparate woodworking techniques into the cellulomold production process as it is known today.
The cellulomold industry has largely coopted the part of the Vale Verdial market where polymers might sit in other humanoid markets. Cellulomold is sturdy enough to survive rough handling, making it an important structural and protective material. Cellulomold is an improved grade of lumber, with some varieties having strength approaching that of some soft metals, and frequently sees use in the construction industry. Cellulomold is also often used in dieseltech machinery, providing chasis panels for automobiles, utility skeletons, and consumer dieseltech computers, though never in parts of a machine likely to be subject to extreme heat or direct flames. Vale Verdial Neo-Gambeson often incorporates cellulomold plates interwoven with the quilting, where it serves primarily as protection from concussion and slashes; it should be noted that, for all it's perks, cellulomold is not entirely bulletproof.
Cultural Significance and Usage
Pieces of cellulomold too small for other practical purposes are often used for Vale scrimshaw or similar acts of manuintimation. A piece is carefully carved to resemble another object, a small tool (such as a comb), or a scene; pigments may or may not be rubbed into the gouges to amplify the effect. Lamination and the careful choice and navication of woodgrains can greatly enhance the aesthetics of the finished piece. Vale scrimshaw is considered an important enough piece of Vale Verdial culture that many examples are preserved for perpetuity in the Tarensa Rokei Cultural Archive in Bunker Primus.
Cellulomold starts off as wood, mushroom flesh, or other plant-based material rich in hardened cellulose. This material is steamed in a solvent tank to drive off many of the non-cellulose portions of its composition. The resulting material is placed in a heated metal mold within a hydraulic pressing machine, then held at temperature and pressure until thuroughly compacted and dry. Once the piece is fully dry, the mold is locked together to retain the pressure while it is moved into a vacuum chamber. Resin is injected into the mold through an array of channels running adjacent to the piece. When the vacuum chamber is activated, the last air within the piece is removed and the resin is degassed; releasing the pressure causes the resin to rush into the voids left by this air. Finally, the piece is heated again under vacuum to set the resin, creating a finished piece of cellulomold. Ghostleaf Foundation botanists, are being conducted to create translucent, transparent, or even self-healing variants.
Reusability & Recycling
One of the benefits of cellulomold is that it is a fully renewable resource - an especially valuable quality in the Manifold Sky, where space and material resources are more limited than what would be expected in a 'normal' world. The mushrooms of the municipality of Petalcap Vale, along with materials mined from the mycorrhizal catacombs, can simply be cultivated anew so long as the land and compost keep coming. Old pieces can even be chipped and turned into fertilizer themselves, though additional chemical processing may be required to make the materials more bioavailable. The swathes of land between the districts are managed by a consortium of governmental and business interests to ensure that cellulomold, among other products important to national interests, remain in production in perpetuity.
Cellulomold often has a faint pine tar, turpentine, or resinous scent, but only when hot.
Almost all cellulomold is some shade of brown, from a light, pine-like tan to a waxy dark brown.
Cellulomold is significantly denser that the wood or mushroom flesh from which it was made, though a piece tends to get lighter in creation due to the loss of water content.