You bring up a good point in taking precautions when working with agave, although I would take the same care with foam or wood and wear a mask and have good ventilation. Personally, I would choose a lung full of organic matrial rather than coating them with microplastics. Agave dust can cause breathing problems because it is hydrophilic like the eucalyptus mentioned. Agave is a water magnet, so it makes sense it would attract water if inside the lungs. I wear a full face mask like Hizenberg when working it because it also dries my eyes out. I dont have proper vaccum system in my shop, yet, and the dust is everywhere and particles are always suspended in the air. So a vaccum and particle filter would be ideal but down the road.
Working agave is difficult but not impossible and a lot more aligned with foam than hollow wood construction. For me the difficulty is in the glue lines, which are hard like glass in comparison to the soft, foam like agave core. So when shaping the less dense material is taken off faster and more easily than harder exterior skin or glue. I would equate it to driving a manual transmission to an automatic one. Surely, manual is more complicated and fun to use while the auto is less complicated both achieve a similar end. If one only learned and experienced driving with an auromatic then transitioning to manual may sem daunting and difficult. Although, if one is learns proper technique for driving a manual then that unknown is readily mastered.
Don't be scurred. Find a piece of agave that is dead and dried out and play with the material. It will blow your mind. It is like no other wood or material I have come across and it is very easy to shape, sans the hard skin which should be removed and the glue up lines.
i read this topic and is very interesting,but im also a foam producer im not in worldwide distribution,
im a just a small... but what you should be pay attention to call a foam green or not
is about term ecofriendly ,, is the type of blowing agent used, before was the cfc and wasbanned, now we have the hcfc and in 2-3 years will be also world wide banned ,to understand blowing agent need more than 9 years to dissolvein the air ,some other just few days but have higher price,sometimes foam producer always look to save money to make more profitable the products or maybe they dont know about chemistry or they just using a formulation provided from big chemical company .
now all the polyols are coming from crude oil...can be algae or palm oil ,,,, so many company write we are green using algae.or whatever ... and bla...bla.....
but polyols are from crude oil.
what is dangerous for who use the blanks ,like the shaper and who preshapes blanks is what type of catalyst been used to get the foam.
you will see many blanks have stronger odor some less,,,that is amine odor catalyst.... and is not healthy...also here there are new generations of catalyst
with lower odor but much more expensive....and inside the foam .. rigid foam have around 90 percent closed cell..inside there is gas... and most of them are not friendly..
so basically the main game of big company selling the safer and greener products for more $$$.
okei be safer and green as possible ,but shaper always need first the quality of the foam...foam makes the quality of a surfboard , client want always light but strong
so the foam make the difference.
but until now nobody make a test comparative of the foam.probably because nobody want talk bad about other company,also test are not cheap to do.
if some want i will do.. i have all type of foam of major producers..
i always compare my foam to understand if quality is good or poor or where i should improve compared to otherfoam producers
i always do this test
flex and spring test
flotation test resistance
absorption of water.
to be honest at moment the best formulation i have ever seen is surfblanks in australia
super strong formulation... is very hard but also have a weight density of 58.82 the highest compared to other.but
makes the board stronger even with only 1 layer on deck.....
compared to us blanks or bennett have lower weight density but also lower mechanical resistance.
after flex and spring i will not mention,,so someone have better strenght other more flex and spring...
thats make the board feel more alive.... but some surfer looks for durability..they cant understand the feeling of flex and spring of the foam.
we make a test with a small machine making 5000 repetitive small bend ...around 45 degrees
and after we record every cycle of 100 to see how it goes.....
so to judge a foam quality is not easy ....
and polyurethane is not obsolete is the most advanced product for
structural foam ..for quality-prices....always new chemical arrive on market
after is to us to find the correct use and formulation..to get the results we need... if you need foam cheap? strong? light?super flex? fast rebound?
not turn yellow fast ,super white...
now tyred to typing.....
sorry for my bad english..
Any comparison info between foams is very useful, tell us more!
...after all your test you see what I have been preaching here that Surfblanks is the best foam, but mostly in this forum are from USA so they still think that have all the best materials.
Also only Surfblanks Brazil have the lightest of the surfboard blanks (a density called premium) I have a bunch and hold pretty good.
-on the other side I tested several small factories foam and never ever obtained such a good formula.
I think EPS is a far cleaner foam than poly.....for starters , it's completely recyclable into new EPS stock .........it's predominantly fire proof these days , and the toxic blowing agent has been removed from the steaming process .........in Aus , it's less than half the price of an equivalent poly blank , and also half the weight . For years now , I have been using a locally produced water-based epoxy for both glassing EPS and finish coating composite surf craft.....I still use some poly blanks , but the glassing is farmed out , so my workshop is generally free of flammable and toxic containers .......still love traditional PU/PE craftmanship , which I hope will never fade away , but the pressure on mass producers of such craft have resulted in too many corners being cut and durability dropping through the floorboards - sure , they look slick in the showroom , but they were ( or should be) built for the salt water environment , not the air conditioned showroom environment........to each his own.