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Thread: Cleaning foam contaminated documents

  1. #1
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    Default Cleaning foam contaminated documents

    I have a manual that was stored with its computer in a carrying case. The problem was that it was lined with that black foam that decays into a goopy mess. The pages are salvageable but it's all covered in crumbled foam that smears if brushed with effort. If I feed this through my scanner it will surely gum everything up. Is there a way to remove most of the foam or do I have to just manually run the entire binder through a flatbed one page at a time?
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  2. #2
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    There might be a solvent that you could use to remove the foam, but you'd have to experiment to ensure that it also didn't remove the ink/toner on the page.

    Was the original manual printed on an ink printer (e.g. dot matrix), laser printer, or was it printed commercially?

  3. #3
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    Probably anything you do will just smear the goo before removing it. It seems that old foam fails in one of two ways--it gets dried out and crumbly or it turns to viscous goo. The second type is by far the worst.

  4. #4
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    Perhaps white vinegar. To alleviate the strain of flat bed scanning the whole thing, just use a digital camera.

  5. #5
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    I have that problem in my 31 year old truck, it has that nasty foam as insulation in several places inside the dash. Some of it has disintegrated, while other parts of it have turned to mush. I've tried several things to remove it without harming the plastic and metal around it and nothing will remove it without causing at least a bit of damage to the underlying material.

    The best thing I've been able to do is use a dremel at low speeds with a brass brush, which will rip away the foam and not really do much to whatever is below it. I think nylon bristles would work better, but I haven't been able to find any rotary brushes with nylon.

  6. #6

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    I'd try carbon tet. But then I might someday be jailed for posting this.

  7. #7
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    Because the papers were in a binder I was able to brush each sheet clean enough before putting it on a flatbed and scanning it in black and white to reduce some of the lighter particles.
    I did have to clean the platen once but WD-40 and a rag works well followed by Windex to remove the residue.
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  8. #8

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    Goo-gone might actually be a better choice for this than WD-40.

    If it has a platen though, I don't think it's a flatbed.

  9. #9
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    I have two different scanners. One is an older HP desktop unit with SCSI and USB but it also has an ADF on top for bulk scanning and the other is a newer USB-only Canon LiDE flatbed. Both are conveniently Plug and Play compatible for XP and 7 and work as-is under the Microsoft Scanner and Camera Wizard.
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  10. #10
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    You might try to remove some of the crud with either talc or cornstarch dusted over the surface of each page.

    I've never tried it--just tossing out an idea.

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