I have been testing cellulose-based mycelium composites for my research. Using two types of cellulose, my current focus is examining compression, tensile strength and natural frequencies of the composites. For the first two experiments, the samples remained in a relatively small scale, so cultivating and drying hasn’t been difficult. However, in order to test the frequency, a really flat and long sample is needed (50x7x2 cm). Since I have already been growing composites with cellulose, I am aware that the material shrinks immensely because it can take up a lot of water and clumps during drying.
To avoid the deformation and cracking, I put the samples (with the plastic moulds!) in a drying cabinet at a very low temperature for almost a week. The samples had minimal deformation but they still cracked and now I can’t use them for the material testing.
If someone has an idea how to optimize the drying of highly deformable materials, I’m more than happy to hear some suggestions!