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What is First Contact Polymer?

First Contact Polymer is a proprietary blend of polymers in a blend of solvents specifically designed to remove all contaminates from optical surfaces down to the molecular level as well as protect optical surfaces during shipping and storage. It is carefully designed not to thermally shock nor remove coatings. The polymer is applied to the surface, allowed to dry, and then peeled off leaving the surface atomically clean.

Can I get a sample of First Contact Polymer?

First Contact Polymer comes with a money back guarantee. If you are not completely satisfied with the results, you may return the product for a refund.

How can I order First Contact Polymer?

You can order First Contact Polymer directly from our Web Store, or you may contact one of our International Distributors.

How much First Contact Polymer do I need?

Typically 1 ml of the brush on formula of First Contact Polymer will cover around 26 square centimeters (approximately 4 sq in). This quantity will vary greatly depending on the dirtiness of the optics and their texture/shape. If the optic is really dirty, plan on almost double this amount.It must be applied thick enough to have the mechanical strength to peel. The spray formula, since it is diluted for spraying, covers around 60% the surface area that the equivalent amount of brush on formula. The spray usage will vary greatly depending on sprayer, size of optics, quantity covered at once, and experience of the user.

How do I use First Contact Polymer?

Brush/pour on First Contact Polymer instructions are available here, or spray directions can be found here.

What is the shelf life of First Contact Polymer?

Colorless First Contact Polymer has a shelf life of one year from the manufacturing date. Red First Contact Polymer has a shelf life of 9 months. If stored below room temperature out of direct light, both formulas can last much longer. When exposed to light for long periods of time, the Red First Contact Polymer can begin to lose its color and eventually turn colorless. This in no way affects the polymer’s ability to protect and clean.

How should I store First Contact Polymer?

First Contact Polymer should be stored at or below room temperature and out of direct sunlight. When exposed to light for long periods of time, the Red First Contact Polymer can begin to lose its color and eventually turn colorless. This in no way affects the polymer’s ability to protect and clean.

Is First Contact Polymer Safe?

First Contact Polymer is as safe as ethanol and nail polish remover (this means very safe). The liquid First Contact Polymer has a variety of flammable solvents, such as ethanol, and should be used in a ventilated area. The polymer blend is inert and once dry can be disposed of with standard waste. While the solvents are flammable, they are considered harmless and usually ship as a standard package.

Can I use First Contact Polymer at High/Low Temperatures?

If the polymer and mirror are close to the same temperature, there will be no thermal shock to any coatings. It is organic solvent based, like alcohol and acetone, and dries almost as fast at 0°C as it does at room temperature. First Contact Polymer has been tested at -10°C and works wonderfully. The clear polymer yellows at 180°C and has been flashed to 450°C during soldering. It melts at 200°C and adhesion usually increases. Increased adhesion is not a problem, however, because the polymer film can be removed by coating the dried polymer film with the liquid First Contact Polymer. The dried film will dissolve and then lift as usual. Some customers will apply a thin layer to protect while heating and then apply more liquid polymer to remove the protective layer after heating.

Will First Contact Polymer work on my special mirror/optics?

You can see a chart of surfaces First Contact Polymer has been tested on here. With the exception of some plastics, First Contact Polymer works on all materials and coatings that don’t dissolve in the solvents. It has been tested on most materials and coatings (even exotic coatings) without complication. Unprotected Silver has extremely low adhesion and caution is advised when using First Contact Polymer on this surface.

What are the differences between the red and the colorless First Contact Polymer?

Red First Contact Polymer is an updated version of the colorless First Contact Polymer. It dries 1/3 faster than the colorless version and less adhesion on surfaces such as gold and titanium. The red color is incorporated directly to the polymer backbone so there is still zero residue left on the surface. Although originally designed for microscope slides, the Red First Contact Polymer has replaced the colorless version as the recommended protecting and cleaning product for all applications.

I have a telescope. Which First Contact Polymer Kit should I buy?

Go to this page to determine the kit that best fits your needs.

What protection does First Contact™ provide during handling, storage and shipping?

When properly applied, First Contact™ protects against scratching, abrasion, dirt, and water damage. First Contact™ also protects against corrosion caused by water vapor, oxygen, and sulfur. First Contact™ dries to a strong solid film which adheres to the surface tightly. The film covers the surface intimately, providing an effective barrier to particulates. Unlike other protective films in use today, the tough, resilient First Contact™ film prevents scratches due to particulate matter or abrasion from surfaces rubbing against the protected surface. First Contact™ IS the protection, it does not need to be protected with expensive packaging designed to suspend the optic to prevent any contact during transit.

Can I lower packaging and shipping costs by using First Contact™?

Photonic Cleaning Technologies believes you can! First Contact polymer film is tough, resilient, and protects against many physical and chemical attacks. It provides a positive physical barrier between the optic and the world. This physical barrier allows the use of less sophisticated, less expensive packaging options. By shipping with First Contact™ protection on your optics, package cost and time spent packaging should drop significantly.

Does First Contact™ protect against water and water vapor penetration?

Yes, First Contact™ provides an effective barrier to water and water vapor. The polymer film will swell in water and, if submerged, will lift off easily in several minutes, especially with agitation. Some large scale manufacturing customers place a wet cloth/tissue on the dried First Contact film near an edge to release it from the surface then use a peel tab to remove the polymer entirely.

Does First Contact™ protect against oxygen?

Yes, First Contact™ provides effective protection from oxygen. The dry, First Contact™ film is impervious to oxygen.

*NOTE: Certain coatings have inherently poor adhesion, especially if manufactured without effective substrate preparation, particularly gold and silver coatings and replicated aluminum gratings. That being said, we and our customers have successfully protected and cleaned lots of gold and silver mirrors and gratings including those on the WM Keck Telescope and the Gemini North Silver. The Laser Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) uses our red polymer formula exclusively to clean their gold optics as documented here. While we routinely clean diffraction gratings, the old adage about gratings still holds - don’t touch them unless you have to! And remember: Always test on an inconspicuous or non-critical area first.

Does First Contact™ protect against sulfur penetration?
Yes, First Contact™ is impervious to sulfur vapors and provides effective protection against sulfur.

If First Contact™ sticks after storage, how can I remove it safely?
First Contact™ polymer is inert so it is unlikely it will stick too tightly to the surface even after a lengthy storage period. However, if necessary, the polymer can be re-dissolved using fresh First Contact™ solution. When the fresh application dries, the polymer film will peel off quickly and easily.

How does First Contact™ work?
Years of research led to the development of this novel designer polymer/solvent system. It is a carefully tuned chemical system optimizing the desired properties of adhesion and drying to avoid thermal coating stress. First Contact™ cleans without rubbing or dragging because the user never touches anything but the First Contact™ solution and the First Contact™ film. Cleaning with First Contact™ cannot create scratched surfaces!

What surfaces can be cleaned with First Contact™?
First Contact™ solution is applied to the surface one wants clean. The solution conforms to the surface shape and dries to a plastic film in intimate contact with every surface feature and contour. The dried film is removed, leaving an optically clean surface. First Contact™ cleans mirrors, lenses, and diffraction gratings, among other important optics.
That said, First Contact™ is not for use on plastics that dissolve in strongly polar organic solvents. Chief among materials one should never try to clean with First Contact™ is polycarbonate which is the most common material used in prescription eyeglassses. DO NOT USE FIRST CONTACT™ TO CLEAN PRESCRIPTION EYEGLASSES OR OTHER PLASTIC LENSES.

What will First Contact™ clean from the surface?
First Contact™ can clean any surface that is not soluble in strongly polar organic solvents such as acetone or ethanol,including all types of glass, metals, silica, Si, Ge, KRS-5, NaCl, KBr, and all polar inorganic crystals. It works on frosted glass, diffuse reflective and even many anodized surfaces! First Contact™ even cleans AR and reflective coatings, most commercial first surface mirrors (protected and unprotected), and some plastics, for example nylon and Delrin®, that don’t dissolve in polar organic solvents such as acetone. First Contact™ possesses a perfectly balanced adhesive force to hold the residues without holding onto the many expensive precision coatings in use on today’s optics.

Can First Contact™ clean metals?
Yes, First Contact™ cleans all metals. We have several different polymer formulas so please contact us for the best product for your application.

Can First Contact™ clean crystals and minerals?
Yes, First Contact™ cleans crystals and minerals as long as the material is not soluble in polar organic solvents. First Contact™ has been used to successfully clean laser rods and precious gems.

Can First Contact™ clean plastics?
Cleaning plastics is an area for caution. First Contact™ can clean some plastics such as nylon and Delrin® which are not soluble in polar organic solvents. However polycarbonates and polyethylenes will dissolve in the First Contact™ solvents.

If First Contact™ is going to be used on or near plastics, use extreme caution. If possible, test a sample of the plastic before using First Contact™ on the optic or optic assembly. Photonic Cleaning Technologies will not accept responsibility for damage to an optic or instrument due to dissolved plastic components.

Can First Contact™ clean camera lenses?
Camera lenses, lens housings, and mounts may be composed of or contain plastics. Caution must be exercised when using First Contact™ to clean camera lenses.
Professional and research equipment lenses are typically made with glass and high quality coatings. First Contact™ is safe to use with these lenses. Many professional grade lenses have metal housings and mounts which will not dissolve in the First Contact™ solvents; it is best not to coat all the way to these edges as the First Contact™ film will be more difficult to remove. Even so, exercise caution and do not coat all the way to the lens housing or lens mount if there is any chance these structures are made of or contain plastics. Optic retaining rings can be protected from the polymer using our Oring Procedures to control polymer flow. Orings are available on our webstore. Photonic Cleaning Technologies will not accept responsibility for damage to an optic or instrument due to dissolved plastic components.

Can First Contact™ clean camera CCD?
Yes First Contact™ does clean detector windows and unprotected CCD boards effectively and completely. We have done it many times. However, the user must proceed with caution and knowledge about the CCD he/she is going to clean.
CCD boards which are not covered by a detector window are very delicate and the user must understand issues regarding static charges and CCD’s if attempting to clean this type of CCD. If you are not familiar enough with CCD, it is possible to create static charges when removing the dried film, which can damage the CCD. (Our ESD-DF formula can be used to clean these CCDs) If you did not know this before reading it here, we do not recommend cleaning the CCD by yourself until you get some more instruction.
Some CCD mounts are made of plastic. As always when using First Contact™, the user must be careful not to brush the First Contact™ solution onto the plastic mount. First Contact™ solution may adhere to some plastics too tightly to peel off or could even dissolve the material. This is usually not a consideration for high quality laboratory equipment.

Can First Contact™ clean water soluble residues from precision optics?
In some cases First contact™ does remove water soluble contaminants. However First Contact™ solution is designed to remove organic contamination and small particles. It will not reliably remove water soluble residues by itself. But, many water soluble residues can be removed effectively in a two-step process. Step one is to our Water Spot Pretreatment to dissolve the water soluble residues. Step two is to apply First Contact™ solution to remove the aqueous solution, particulates and organic contaminants from the surface.

What does First Contact™ do in addition to clean surfaces?
First Contact™ can be used to protect precision surfaces from physical and chemical damage making it an excellent choice for storage, shipping, and manufacturing protection.

First Contact™ provides physical protection from scratching and abrasion. The tough plastic film adheres firmly to the surface and protects it from physical harm.

First Contact™ provides protection from chemical attack. First Contact™ is impermeable to some chemicals, and provides a level of protection against others.

What can First Contact™ NOT do?
First Contact™ cannot repair damaged surfaces nor can it clean all plastics.

FIRST CONTACT™ WILL DISSOLVE MOST EYEWEAR OR PLASTIC LENSES! The solvent system contains strongly polar liquids capable of dissolving many plastics including polycarbonates and polystyrenes.

First Contact™ will not repair scratches or restore corroded surfaces. First Contact™ can remove fingerprints as long as the residue is reasonably fresh and the oils and acids have not etched the optic surface.

First Contact™ neither repairs nor creates surface imperfections. When properly applied, nothing touches the optic surface except liquid First Contact™.

How is First Contact™ applied?
First Contact™ may be brushed onto the surface, sprayed on, placed on the surface using an eyedropper or pipette; it may even be applied by simply dipping the optic into First Contact™ Polymer Solution. Application techniques may be found on the First Contact™ Instructions page.

How much First Contact™ will I need?
The First Contact™ solution must be applied generously enough to create a thick, dry film on the surface that will peel off without tearing. The dry film is a tough, flexible plastic-like material.

For a smooth surface – like a mirror – plan on using about 1 ml First Contact™ solution for four (4) square inches of surface area treated. (1 ml per four square inches is the same as 1 ml per 26 square cm.) Rough surfaces and grooved surfaces need more solution than this.

How long does it take for First Contact™ to dry to a strong, flexible film?
The short answer is that First Contact™ solution takes about 15 to 20 minutes to dry on a typical mirror or lens. Rough surfaces like diffraction gratings need at least 2 to 3 times longer.

The long answer is it depends on many factors including ambient temperature, amount applied per surface area, etc. The more First Contact™ solution applied, the longer the dry time; the cooler the room, the longer the dry time.

How is First Contact™ removed from the object?
When First Contact™ solution has dried thoroughly, the film will peel off quickly and easily using the special peel tabs provided in the regular and deluxe kits. Simply expose the sticky side of the peel tab, place it on the film, make sure the sticky tab and film are in intimate contact, wait about 15 seconds, and gently pull up. You must pull from an edge of the film and peel the dry polymer film back on itself to get the peel started. Consider the polymer like a piece of tape; you can not remove tape from the center, you must start removing tape from an edge, right? First Contact™ removal works under the same principle.

The First Contact™ film tore while removing, what should I do?
First Contact™ film is a very tough, flexible material. If the film tore while being removed, the coating is probably too thin. Stop peeling, apply more First Contact™, and allow it to dry. The old, torn film and the new application will form a thicker film coating that should be easily removed without tearing. Leave the peel tab in place when applying additional solution and use it to remove the dried film.

The First Contact™ film is sticking to the surface. What is happening?
First Contact™ is a solution of polymer in solvents. The polymer forms a film as the solvents evaporate. Even though the film is present, the solvents may still be evaporating and the film is not as strong as it will be when it is dry.

If necessary, lay the film back down on the surface and apply more First Contact™ solution to re-dissolve any polymer adhering to the surface where the wet film was lifted. Allow the solution plenty of time to dry before attempting to remove the film a second time.

What ventilation is needed when using First Contact™?
First Contact™ solution contains volatile solvents including acetone and ethanol. Adequate ventilation is necessary when using the product. Please see our SDS

Is First Contact™ solution flammable?
Yes, First Contact™ solution is flammable. Use only with adequate ventilation and protect from open flames or other ignition sources.

Is the dry First Contact™ polymer film flammable?
The dry First Contact™ polymer film is essentially inert and will not easily burn.

Can First Contact™ be used on larger surface areas?
Yes, First Contact™ can be used on any surface suitable for the solution composition.

On larger surfaces it is suggested to use more substantial removal techniques than the small peel tabs provided in the regular and deluxe kits. Intermediate surfaces may be peeled using bumper sticker-size tabs (part number FCB) that Photonic Cleaning Technologies can supply on request. Very large surfaces may require special chemical resistant nylon mesh (part number FCNet), available from Photonic Cleaning Technologies, be applied between a double application of First Contact™ solution. The mesh becomes part of the coating without ever touching the surface and provides a strong matrix to pull and remove the dry film.

Can First Contact™ be applied as a spray?
First Contact™ solution can be applied as a spray. Photonic Cleaning Technologies provides Spray First Contact which is ready-to-use from the bottle. PCT also identified three manual spray bottle systems which are compatible with Spray First Contact. Spray First Contact and manual spray bottles can be purchased on the Volusion store link under the Accessories Page

Research and experimentation shows that HVLP spray technology is compatible with First Contact™ application. Standard First Contact™ can be sprayed with this technology. Contact us for more information.

How do I work with or remove cured First Contact™?
The dry First Contact™ film should remove easily using a peel tab. See ‘How is First Contact™ removed from the object?’.

If the dry film does not come off easily, try applying a new coating of First Contact™ solution. This should re-dissolve the old film. Let the application dry thoroughly and remove the dried film.

Can First Contact™ clean glass and coated optics?
Yes, First Contact™ was developed with this purpose in mind. The developers were researchers trained to use precision optics in their research and knew there had to be a better way to clean than drag wipe methods. They worked for several years to attain a breakthrough technology for cleaning precision optics and have spent several additional years proving the technology works as well as improving the product.

First Contact™ is a single component cleaning solution. Just apply First Contact™ from the bottle; there is no need to ever touch the optic surface directly with a brush, mesh, or tissue. First Contact™ penetrates every surface feature down to 50 nm and smaller. When the dried film is removed, the surface is optically clean and the optic coatings remain intact.

First Contact™ is effective on rough surfaces like diffraction gratings and frosted glass, too!

Can First Contact™ clean telescope optics?
Yes, First Contact™ cleans all telescope optics, from mirrors to diffraction gratings to camera lenses, quickly and effectively.

First Contact™ restores primary surface mirrors to virtually new condition and can be applied to the surface while the mirror is mounted in the telescope. Regular use of First
Contact™ can extend mirror life and reduce or eliminate the need to recoat the primary surface. Read the report from our visit to the Gran Telescopio Canarias to see the level of reflectivity restored to a dirty mirror segment!

Will First Contact™ remove blocking wax from optics?
Yes, First Contact™ removes blocking wax like that on x-ray optics much faster, more effectively, and more completely than other methods.

You may want to take advantage of First Contact’s™ ability to protect optics during storage. The dried First Contact™ film is quickly and easily removed, within seconds, when the optic is needed.

Will First Contact™ remove residue from other attempts to clean optics?
Yes, First Contact™ is proven to remove residues remaining when other products were used to ‘clean’ or protect the optic. Results may vary depending on the residue as surface staining or etching may have occurred.
It may also be necessary to use our 2 step cleaning process using Water Spot Pretreatment to loosen the residue and allow First Contact™ to encapsulate and remove the residue.

Only First Contact™ protects, cleans, and leaves no residue!