Go-Vex™ Cleanable First Surface Spherical Mirror Cleaning Advice
The Go-Vex™ Cleanable First Surface Spherical Mirror is the first spherical fulldome mirror that can be cleaned using light pressure and gentle solvents. Go-Vex™ takes advantage of proprietary manufacturing methods to create a surface that is more durable than other fulldome mirrors, and that sheds dust and repels water. With proper care and damage prevention the reflective surface will stay operational for years.
This optical mirror- like all optical mirrors- must be handled with care to ensure the longest possible service life. The mirror coating is on the front surface- unlike common mirrors- and thus is more vulnerable to damage.
Prevention is always the first line of defense- it is best to avoid introducing foreign material to the mirror surface in the first place- particularly body fluids such as perspiration or saliva, or oils such as from fingers and hands, any other sort of oil or grease, as well as any sort of dirt or dust.
To accomplish this, avoid touching the metalized dome surface at all. At a minimum wear latex or vinyl gloves when handling to avoid leaving fingerprints. Whenever possible wear soft cotton or nylon gloves over the latex or vinyl ones. Turn your head to avoid talking over the mirror (minute amounts of saliva are often imperceptibly released into the air while talking) or wear a nose and mouth mask.
Also, although the Go-Vex™ coating is more durable than other front surface mirrors, the acrylic material itself is relatively soft- therefore it is important to avoid abrasive contact with any object- the plastic will easily (and permanently) scratch. This includes most cloth, paper towels, etc.
If foreign material does come in contact with the Go-Vex™ mirror, it may be carefully cleaned as described below. Note that caution and discretion should always be exercised- as not all instances of foreign material on the mirror surface translate into noticeable defects in projected images- and thus the desire to clean needs to be balanced against risk of damage.
The best strategy is to use the least invasive method possible that gets the job done. Also, always first remove any particulate using one of the more gentle methods before applying any method that involves rubbing. Please refer to the following list of cleaning methods- sorted generally from lower risk to higher risk:
1. Compressed air- use a source designed for optics, such as aerosol cans sold by professional photographic suppliers. Loose particles and dust can often be successfully removed using this method alone. Warning: Sources such as air compressors must be filtered with traps that prevent water condensation from being sprayed out with the air.
2. Soft anti-static brush- use one designed for optics, such as sold by professional photographic suppliers. Sweep gently, taking care to not let the hard parts of the brush contact the mirror surface. Used with care this method can be quite effective for removing loose particles and dust.
3. “Breath” and minimal rubbing with microfiber cloth- A single fingerprint or similar very light oil-based smudge can sometimes be removed by breathing (not blowing- blowing can introduce droplets of saliva) on the spot to “fog” it and then quickly- and very lightly- dabbing or wiping it with a soft lint-free microfiber cloth. Repeat if needed. Pay careful attention to the surface of the mirror, and stop rubbing immediately if any signs of wear or scratching appear.
4. Distilled water and small amount of unscented liquid dish soap-
1. Flood method: mix the solution and pour over surface, and swirl around using the action of gravity and the liquid alone to “scrub” the surface
2. Minimal rubbing method: mix the solution and dab with a microfiber cloth, gently rubbing if needed. Pay careful attention to the surface of the mirror, and stop rubbing immediately if any signs of wear or scratching appear.
5. Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA)-
1. IPA can sometimes be helpful for removing small stains, using a corner of a lint free microfiber cloth or cotton swab. Apply the IPA to the cloth or swab, and lightly rub the affected area. As with other light contact methods, pay careful attention to the surface of the mirror, and stop rubbing immediately if any signs of wear or scratching appear.
6. General Advice re: Other Solvents and Cleaners-
1. Other solvents and cleaners may or may not work- we do not offer any specific recommendations. But in general always seek to use the least powerful method that gets the job done.
2. Never use any solvent or cleaner that contains an abrasive, and avoid using any material with a chemistry that might react with metal.
3. Do not use any method that leaves a residue.
And regardless of method, it is always wise to pre-test the cleaning materials and practice the methods in a non-critical area of the mirror, such as on the flange.