World Web shooter: possible?


technology theorist
Oct 25, 2010
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Hi, my name is White_widow, and for a while I've been working on the web shooter. I decided to create a new forum for those that want to work on it together. There are aspects of it that I'm not a big believer on:

1.) The web fluid wouldn't likely be stronger than kevlar. He's a kid after all.
2.) "Certain embibed esters" will cause the formula to dissolve in two hours.
3.) thousands of miles of fluid can be contained in a single co2 sized cartridge.
4.) The prospect of swinging like tobey Mcguire is stupid and dangerous (though I think that the use of webbing as an aid to free running to increase distance is possible.)

Here is what I think is possible:

1.)A kid can develop a polymer extrusion device.
2.) The polymer can be formed in seconds.
3.) The polymer has the capacity to be as strong as nylon.
4.) The web fluid would easily stick to many substrates.
5.) This entire project can be completed under 100$, easily covered by peter's wrestling winnings.

Here's a little bit of background info to start the research:

- The web fluid is likely a polymer solution that contains a strong plastic, a rubber, a resin, and a solvent.

-The tensile strength of nylon (the tensile strength of fishing lines and ropes) is 70 MPa, or 10152.6 psi. That may sound like a lot, but that's just 20 MPa more than styrofoam. We are shooting for 55 MPa or higher.

- The polymer must be "Spun" This means forced through a spinneret to create the shape. From there, the solvent must be removed quickly.

-The pressure vessel should be made of strong polyethylene or metal, due to most solvents being dangerous in compression.

-The adhesive has to be a pressure sensitive adhesive. This is what makes up the rubber and resin. The resin increases tack, while the rubber bonds to the surface. It's the same adhesive in duct tape.

So far I have created a shooter that can fire water, and I've created a polymer that bonds very strongly to cement, but it's too brittle. The biggest issue right now is making the plastic flow like honey instead of like putty.

Once I can fire the polymer like I can the water, all I'd have to do to accomplish this goal is add either a heating system or something to the spinneret to allow the polymer to dry much more quickly.

If you want to join in this project, You might want to become familiar with:

-Polymer science
-Potato cannons
-spinning techniques (there are only four that I know about)
-basic circuitry

Best of luck guys.
The web shooter is basically four main components:

1.) a pressure vessel.
2.)The tubing
3.) The valve/actuator
4.) The spinneret.

1.) The pressure vessel is a can of fluid. There are many ways to make these. Look at co2 cannons on Youtube. They can be made from coke bottles, PVC, Steel, Aluminum, etc. A pressure vessel is made up of a containment unit, an intake valve, a relief valve, and a way to input fluid.

2.) Pressure tubing/couplers: must be either propane or fuel lines. Must be able to hold at least 150 psi. This can't be eaten by a solvent. The couplers will connect the tubing to each part of the shooter.

3.)The valve/actuator: A wrist device that is connected to the pressure vessel by tubing. This most likely is going to be a 12v solenoid valve, though a tilt valve is possible too.

4.) The spinneret: The most advanced part of this project, and yet, the simplest. This is a plate with holes in it. The polymer goes through the plate. It's easy enough. The hard part comes from trying to evaporate the solvent from the fluid as it passes through the spinneret.

When it comes to spinning techniques: We are going to try to use a dry spinning technique.

There is dry spinning, wet spinning, melt spinning, and electrospinning. Every technique after that is a combination of these.
-Wet spinning requires a coagulation bath of harmful chemicals.
-melt spinning requires the shooter to be hot eternally.
-electrospinning requires a large voltage, and it's fibers are too small.
-dry spinning only requires a spinneret and a way to heat the solution (formula)
This is a picture of the average dry spinning mechanism:


This is how it works:

This is the dry spinning process: (24:05-24:38)

This is what a spinneret is, and what it looks like: (22:31-22:48)
The tensile strength isn't necessarily the most important part of making the web shooter strong enough to support human weight, though it does play a bigger part in our case.

In this episode of mythbusters, Tori was given the assignment of making an escape rope to scale a prison. His material was 1 ply toilet paper. It wasn't strong, but when he twisted it together, and braided it, it was strong enough to hold a human being.

Now toilet paper is less than 1 MPa, and we are using about 50 MPa. That means that we can have a rope that is 1/50 the diameter of the toilet paper rope, which is good because that means less fluid is wasted. However, because we can't braid the fluid so quickly, we could make it 1/20 the diameter to be safe.

In other Mythbusters news, I've found that webbing shares some properties of duct tape:

the car example is what we're focusing on. The adhesive didn't give way, implying that the tensile strength is weaker than the adhesive. Now it takes 70 pounds to break a few strands of cotton. If we use a stronger polymer, then it would only take the thread count in 4-6 strands of duct tape. The adhesive needs to have a large contact area. The adhesive will have to splatter.

That means that we simply need that duct tape adhesive, a polymer as strong as cotton, and a solvent/solvents.
As far as polymers go, there are only a few that really work. They need to be strong, biodegradable, and easy to dissolve in relatively harmless materials. There are only two that we can work with AS OF NOW (in the future cellulose gels may do us some good):

-cellulose acetate (rayon)
-Polyvinyl alcohol (vinylon)

Cellulose acetate has the tensile strength of cotton. It's solvent is acetone and it is biodegradable.

Polyvinyl alcohol is dissolved in water and it is biodegradable. The tensile strength is unknown, though depending on the source, some say stronger than cotton, some say near the strength of steel, and some say it's a light paste or film. These tensile strengths really depend on how the polymer is prepared and how much water is present in it.

The adhesive is a pressure sensitive blends. They are a rubber and a tackifier:

- neoprene, polyisoprene, latex, and other rubbers work well. Neoprene is contact/rubber cement.

-The tackifier is a resin, or a pure polymer. PVA is possibly one, rosin is one. I've even heard of someone using maple syrup. Anything to increase tack, or stickiness can be used.
I'm going to explain the pressure vessel. It's so simple, yet no one on the other forum has created one. Here's how you construct one.

First though, you need to understand how it works. There are three kinds of vessels:

1.) straw PV's- there is a straw that sucks up the fluid. The Propellant pushes the fluid into the straw in an effort to escape. This method clogs too easy.

2.) Gravity fed PV's- There is a valve that input air. The fluid exits the pressure vessel through the bottom. The air only adds to the motion, the fluid automatically goes down. I think this should reduce clogging.

3.) Bag in a can PV's- The propellant squeezes a bag inside the can. Like a capri-sun, the fluid will try to escape from the bag, therefore it will shoot out.

the bag in a can is the most ideal. I am experimenting with the gravity fed pressure vessel. It's the easiest to make. Let me explain how to make that.

1.) Get a coke bottle, teflon tape, a 1/4 schrader valve, and a 1/2" drill bit.
2.) drill a hole in the bottom of the coke bottle.
3.) wrap the schrader valve in teflon tape and screw it into the bottle.
4.) You're done for now. You add fluid into the bottle by unscrewing the cap. Later, when you are working on other parts of the shooter, you will drill another hole in the cap, but there are two things you can put into the cap.
Hey White_widow, I don't have anything to contribute because I really don't know anything about chemistry or engineering or anything really, but I just want to say I have lurked around the Spider-man products board before and I must say that it is incredible that it seems like you guys over there are actually close to making a real life web shooter with a real web like solution. That alone just blows my mind that in the future, web shooters could be possible. Obviously, like you said many times, swinging on the web will always be out of the realm of possibility because it is practically suicide. But still, this whole web shooter project stuff makes me a heck of a lot more interested in chemistry.
Good to hear ace! We're hoping that we can get it done soon. It's just a matter of experimentation now that we have the basic idea.
We are looking for a fiber with a few properties:

1.) Strong (tensile strength ranging from styrofoam to nylon)
2.)resistant to chemicals
3.) Light
4.) Easy to dissolve
5.) Biodegradable
6.) easy enough to make.

PVA fiber hits all of these characteristics, assuming that it has been made and prepared properly. This fiber, the japanese form of nylon is called vinylon.


We can start this from the polyvinyl acetate if we knew how to control the outcome, but until then, I recommend we start with the actual PVA. We can research grades later, but for now, we just need something to experiment with.

From that point we make a spinning solution. That will be the PVA, water, and whatever adhesive solution we want to add in there. Luckily the two don't mix, so most likely, one will coat the other. This spinning solution is most likely going to be a gel, because we can't waste time in evaporating water. This gelatinous stage will also allow it to keep some crystalline groups.

From that point we fire the web fluid, it passes through the heated spinneret, and it creates fibers. Now here's the next problem. This formula, while strong will have a lot of amorphous groups left. An amorphous group allows for elasticity, but it will be weak. The crystals give tensile strength, but are brittle and not tough. After we spin the fibers, we need to draw them.

I suggest that there will be a bunch of extruded fibers that go through a secondary mono-spinneret. This will allow the fibers (which are naturally adhesive) to adhere together into a rope, and the fibers will then be drawn to increase crystallization.

This process will occur with a decent amount of pressure: 100 psi, so there must be a lot of experimenting with it. The type of PVA, the amount of heat, the amount of pressure, the size of both spinnerets, and other factors will determine if we will have a silly string or a rope with the strength of cotton fibers or more. The tensile strength of PVA fibers used to reinforce cement have hit 800-1200 MPa. I doubt we will hit that high, as that's similar in strength to medium grade steels, but it's worth a shot, as even 200 MPa is more than enough to hold us, and if that material yields that high, it should be easy to obtain a quarter of the strength.
Spiderman had the ability to stick to objects. Because his webbing was strong enough, he could swing from a thread is because he didn't have to hold the thread. He naturally adhered to it.

We don't have that, but here's another piece of evidence that suggests that the adhesive has to be pressure sensitive. This adhesive has to bond to surfaces instantly. Yet peter can let go, despite the fact that this adhesive can hold a train. I call hacks.

Well not really. Spider glue acts very much like a shear thickening material. When insects try to escape, the glue hardens and makes it even harder to escape. This process is called strain crystallization. This is only found in rubbers and shear thickening polymers.

Now back to glue, there is a process called curing. Curing is the hardening of a polymer. The polymer is inserted as a liquid into the pours of a material. As it cures, it increasingly gets harder to pull out of the surface. Now there are glues that cure in seconds, but they would have to start the curing process once they hit the wall, or it will not sink into the pours. That means that we can't have any glue that cures.

We also have to have a glue that we can let go of, but can still aid us in holding this rope.

That is why I believe that Pressure sensitive adhesives, which is basically contact cement without the acetone mixed with tackifier resins, will be good for us. It doesn't matter whether or not curing rates are good. As long as it's bonded to the polymer and is even somewhat solid, the glue will penetrate concrete or wood, and hold on tight. The bond will bond to your skin, but because skin is less porous it will be easy to peal off. In that way using a PSA will allow us to imitate this property.
Ok I have a question. I have read this entire thing and see what your doing and it's genius but I can't see what the formula is so what's the formula?
Ok I have a question. I have read this entire thing and see what your doing and it's genius but I can't see what the formula is so what's the formula?

you have the formula. you have 3. they're on your website :cwink:
you have the formula. you have 3. they're on your website :cwink:
Yeah I have three but I want to know this formula he's talking about and I don't think any of the formulas I have on my website are as strong as I want it
So the whole web spinning process is as follows:

- fill a pressure vessel with liquid and pressurize it.
- connect the pressure vessel to the web shooter.
-activate the valve.
-fluid enters in past the tubing and passed the valve.
-as the fluid passes the valve, it is heated enough to evaporate the solvents.
- The material hits the spinneret, semi-aligns, and comes out as filaments.
- the filaments come out through a secondary mono-spinneret, so that they will bond together.

-They escape the shooter and bond to objects.
Let's see. So far I've covered the basics on shooter mechanics, polymer spinning, and I've talked about the most likely formulas. Now let's get into more advanced territory.

DISCLAIMER: by this point in the forums, I don't even know how to do this stuff, or if I do, it's highly theoretical.

Let's talk about actual spider webbing for a second. It's so strong because it is the combination of two proteins. I believe they are alanine and glycine. Now these webs differ from spider to spider in strength, elasticity and purpose. This I believe is due to salts, diet, and the internal spinning mechanisms within the spider.

Let's discount these differences for now.

Both alanine and glycine come together to make an aqueous polymer. This is called a block polymer. It is VERY similar to a few other artificial polymers that have been created to imitate this.

-spandex is a mix of polyurea and polyurethane.
-plastic steel is a mixture of polyvinyl alcohol, and nano clay plates.
- Steel, though not a polymer is a chemical blend of iron and carbon, giving it high strength.

There are others, but the point is the same. If an amorphous and strong crystal lattice are mixed on a molecular level, they inherit the tensile strength of the strong material, and the toughness of the amorphous material. By themselves, the crystals would shatter, and the elastomers would be easy to pull apart.

Now the one issue is that this is not like baking a cake. you can't just add liquids together while they are in a solvent to gain these properties. They need to be synthesized together.

Let's look at the first two examples from before:

1.)Spandex- The polyurethane and polyurea aren't added together. They start out as a mix of macroglycol and diisocyanate. These are then mixed with a crosslinking agent. They are chemically "stitched" together. If you want a polymer like spider silk, you need to go by this method.

2.)plastic steel- This is created layer by layer. First there is a pane of glass that is charged. Next, it is dipped in a thin layer of polyvinyl alcohol. It then is dipped into a layer of nano bricks of clay. They dry and it's repeated. This method take to long, though might be possible through nanospinning, but this works by creating hydrogen bonds between the strengthening polymer and the matrix holding it together with the bonds. The PVA imparts flexibility, but the clay gives strength.

The first one is going to be the most beneficial, but it takes two polymers that are close enough chemically to be cross-linked by the same agent. Ideally we would need an elastomer that could be bonded by hydrolysis with methanol.

The second one takes too long, because the mixing has to be uniform, but the point still stands that it requires a crosslinking between two materials.
Cartridges are a big no-no for me. I generally don't like them, as people get very wrapped up in them, despite the fact that they can hold very few oz of fluid. Despite this, I think that a ben reilly type shooter is possible. It uses small aerosol cans connected to a circular manifold. The manifold activates the cans, but there must be some springs to hold rubber stoppers in place. The problem is that when you put in the cartridges for the first time, you'd have to put them all in simultaneously; else, there would be a leak.
Solenoid valves are generally the best types for this kind of project. Depending on where you keep your fluid, You can use one or two solenoid valves. If you only use one, use a three way valve with a modified actuator. That way, you can activate the solenoid valve by the triggers on your palm.

Actually, that's probably the best method. Think about this. The average valve is activating it by pressing a button, pulling a lever, or tilting a plunger stem. This can be activated whenever two wires cross, meaning that you can make the valve very specific. for example, it can be so specific as to only activating when your thumb and pinky touch. I don't recommend it, but it's possible.

The other thing you can do with solenoid valves is mix different formulas, but I really dislike that idea, because mixing them properly isn't as well done.

If you put a three way solenoid near your fluid source (in my case, this will be a fluid belt in the future) you can forego using solenoid valves on the wrist, and instead focus on regulators or making the spinneret, much more advanced.

Or you can use two solenoid valves, one for each wrist. With these, if one runs out of battery, you can at least use the other one.
let's discuss the shape of the web.


I've always been a believer that the webbing was just a line. Web balls cannot exist Unless you make them ahead of times, and the massive orb web was only possible through motors and circuitry.

Look at that picture in the video. It's not just a full solid line, it splatters upon impact. That's important to me. It says that the line is not completely solid, but rather a gel. That makes more sense than it making a little net at the end of the line, though that's possible.

With the splattering at the end, it gives you the restraint, and the web line. I'm all for it.

Now there are two other possibilities:

-Cone/funnel- this isn't a bunch of fibers, this is a strong film of webbing. It allows traps to be made easier and it covers more surface area, though it wastes more fluid. This is made by a ball tip in the spinneret. The fluid will move around that ball creating a cone as it exits.

-orb web- This is made by a spinneret with a motor. The basic idea is that the web lines are connected as they fire out. The motor controls the outer parallel strands of the web. The strands will hit an object and the motor will twist them together.

-orb Web II- The same idea applies as the other orb web, but this one controls perpendicular web lines, and can therefore be used to make the net before the web hits an object.

But seriously, why try to do more than the splattering web line? It will actually stick to the wall better than the other ones, and relatively speaking it will conserve fluid if you regulate it.
The difference between copolymers and composites.

A copolymer is a mixture of two or more polymers that are created by crosslinking monomers from each polymer. think of spandex. It looks like one substance, but it's polyurea and polyurethane. This is done by creating a pre-polymer and crosslinking them with the same agent.

Composites are two polymers that aren't chemically cross-linked, but they adhere on a molecular level. This is very much like fiberglass. There are only two rules with this one. The fibrous reinforcement must be stiffer than the flexible matrix, and they must adhere.
It seems that I've been doing this all wrong. Despite the truth of extrusion, and spinning, I've been trying to mix a strength polymer with an adhesive. I realize that this can't work because the matrix would inevitably be either brittle, or not strong at all due to a lack of cohesion by the strength polymer.

We need to make a composite.

Rubber can be used to form fibers. It can be dissolved in a solvent, and things can be added to it. If we can add the strengthening polymer to a flexible adhesive matrix, we can make the webbing not only elastic, but add adhesion to those fibers without damaging the integrity of the strength.

The first thing we need is a flexible base. I suggest basic natural rubber, because it is biodegradable, easy enough to find, and makes up bungee cords in some countries.

The second thing we need is a tackifier to keep the polymer sticky enough to both hold and bond to the first thing it touches (but not too strong.) For this I recommend Polyterpene resin. It's both natural, and what they use in duct tape, and we've see how strong that stuff is.

Next we need a third ingredient, and this could be any kind of strong polymer. The strongest ones I've heard about use nano clay tablets, but I've always been fond of nanocellulose crystals/gels. Tell me if you find those. Other candidates are glass fibers, carbon fibers, etc.

Now according to the next link, we have to make sure that the polymer bonds to our matrix, in this case our strong adhesive.

Pages 112-120

So that leaves a possible ingredient left, though it really depends on the fiber's natural bonding to the matrix, and size of the reinforcement. The ingredient most likely in that case would be resorcinol–formaldehyde latex. It's not as biodegradable as the other ingredients, but it's highly adhesive, and it bonds well to a lot of substrates.

From that respect, once we create this, we use a solvent that dissolves all of these materials equally, and spin it. We don't have to worry about the drawing process as it's elastic.

Now on that statement "dissolves all of these materials equally," this may or may not be the case depending on what fibers we use. If it's above the micro-scale, then we want them to dissolve, but if it's micro or below, we want it to stay solid, so that nothing risks the mechanical properties of the fibers.
I'm going to leave this project soon. Like, within two weeks soon. As such, I want to make sure that you guys get a good grasp on the formula. Now this irritates me slightly. I can explain my formula to someone in great detail. Without fail every time I do so, the people listening will say, "That's genius... so what's the formula?" I suppose that it could be that I am inept as a teacher, or it could be that I've been working on this for so long that I've learned a new language in chemistry. Either way, I'm going to simply this to a simple math equation. You will have to do the actual rationing, but don't worry. It's EASY.

elastomer + tackifier + strong material + solvent + bonding agent = Webbing formula.

The beauty of this formula is that you can mess with the properties by using different materials that fit these categories. You want as stronger webbing? Use more strong material. Feeling like it's too elastic? Use more bonding agent and reduce elastomer.

Here are some example formulas:

- Polyisoprene + polyterpene resin+ PVA+ aqueous acetone + resorcinol–formaldehyde latex = my current web formula.

- neoprene+ maple syrup+ PVC+ acetone+ No bonding agent= phantom spider's formula (I think)

- Polyurethane elastomer + PVA glue + Cellulose acetate+ no bonding agent = old polymer idea

It doesn't matter what you put in the formula as long as there's something tough/stretchy, something always sticky, some strong powder/fiber, something to bond them together, and something to dissolve them into a semi-viscous fluid, you have a web formula.
Another question I receive a lot is one that deserves it's own panel.

How does the webbing go from a fluid to a solid?

There are two ways to do this. For a reminder, it can be through chemical bonding or evaporation. We are going to use evaporation. Why not chemical bonding? Well, in most cases polymers tend to give off a lot of heat and noxious fumes when they bond together. Nylon gives off acid when it's made. So because of this we are using a solvent, and that solvent must be evaporated.


Solvents take forever to dry by themselves. Take a glass of water put some sugar in it, dissolve the sugar, and wait until you see the sugar again. and wait, and wait, and wait.

So because of this, there are several measures we can take.

1.) Use less solvent
2.) heat the solvent
3.) minimize fibers.

1.) our webbing must be relatively liquid to make sure that we can force it through a spinneret. what you don't know however is that most gels are actually shear thinning. Since polymers that are gels in solvent behave like liquid melts, it means that so long as the shooter applies generous pressure, making it only partially liquid might not be so bad.

2.)We will be using a heating jacket. This formula has to be heated to help evaporate the solvent. I know what you're thinking. Acetone is our solvent, and that's FLAMMABLE. Very estute internet goer. Flammability is pretty much a measure of flash point. Acetone's flash point is relatively low, so we're going to have to lower our heat I'm going to use the low heat glue gun parts for my spinneret.

Well if it's not very hot, how will we get rid of all of the solvent if the formula is passing so quickly?

3.) Symbioteshost/ Vang deserves all the credit for this one. Thank you man.

He made a formula where he used a lot of acetone. His formula was mostly liquid. He fired it from a spray bottle. No heat was applied, but amazingly his formula was decently hard. Why?

take two pots of water. Fill one to the top, the other, barely put any in there. Put it over the stove and put it on high. The one that is near the top will take like ten minutes to boil, but the one with a squirt will lose it almost immediately. Why? Liquids transfer heat through the entire structure. One part of the liquid can't get hot while the others don't, it ALL has to heat up simultaneously. This means that for the web formula we need to make sure that the heat will only have to heat up a little bit of liquid.

The spinneret is a bunch of holes. What if though, those holes were needles. That would seperate the formula into a bunch of slivers of fluid. Now metal transfers heat with little to no resistance if the metal is touching. That means that if the needles are all touching it will be like there is a bunch of stoves boiling drops of water vs one stove boiling lots of water.

Once the fluid leaves the needles it should be mostly solid. If you put a cone connecting the needles, the strands will stick together, making a rope like this:


or this:


Much like the spider, whose webs are a bunch of little strands, so must ours be.

Ultimately, we want to use a heated spinneret so that we can have web lines that become solid VERY FAST.

EDIT: the reason Vang's formula hardened so quickly was because the spinneret he was using was so small, it was borderline microscopic. That way, the fluid only had to lose the solvent in a thread of fluid. We need to heat ours so that we can have lots of threads for strength, but he deserves a lot of credit for that one.
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This is more a correction on the last one, but there are technically three ways to solidify a material. The first is chemical bonding, the second it solvent evaporation, and the third one was melting a polymer and allowing it to cool. That's why the nylon had cool air in that previous diagram.

We don't want to use this method, mostly because we will lose all sense of cohesion and viscosity. It's done in pellet form. Think of a cotton candy machine.

I also want to clarify what each individual component in the formula does before we move onto the next page:

elastomer + tackifier + strong material + solvent + bonding agent = Webbing formula

elastomer- This composes the elastic nature of the formula. It's considered the matrix. This material must be quite tough. think latex or chewing gum. This must be at least 30 MPa in tensile strength and the stretchier the better.

Tackifier- This is sticky. This is what makes it bond to other materials. the rubber sinks in and this grips the material while in there. Look for any tackifier that bonds very strongly to cement or metal. For best results, look at the chemical composition of whatever you want to use it for. For example if I want to use it for parkour in a city that uses mostly cement, I'm going to make sure it adheres to cement. It must also adhere naturally to rubber.

strengthener- this is what will give our sticky bungee cord strength. This material can be brittle and whatnot, but it has to have a high tensile strength and bond well to rubber. Common examples are PVA fibers, glass fibers, carbon fibers, etc. Cellulose acetate is also good for this. Preferably the material will be 800 MPa or more. That way, when it bonds to the rubber, it can take the stress.

solvent- this allows the formula to remain a thixotropic gel or liquid. It should be relatively easy to evaporate, and not too easy to combust. I recommend looking for materials that can be dissolved in acetone or water. Those generally are a lot easier on the skin and environment.

bonding agent: Sometimes, the strengthening material just doesn't adhere well to the matrix. That is very important however. That means that the material might need a "primer" I've already mentioned the material that I would use for this, but feel free to find your own.

I can't stress this enough. For a composite to be as strong as webbing, the latex matrix MUST adhere to everything in it. The tackifier does that naturally, but if we want the strong web lines, the strengthener MUST bond to the rest of the formula and be distributed properly.
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