In case you’ve never heard of acrylic, than you probably don’t know that it is an amazing type of plastic that can be used for various projects. It comes in colors or in transparent mode, meaning that you can use it for anything. After hearing that it can be laser cut, machined, or even heated and bent to any shape, you’re probably going to want to know a lot more about this material, and especially how to do that.
Types of Acrylic
First of all, let’s say a word or two about the acrylic. You can find it in two varieties: it can be extruded or cast. The extruded one has a lot lower melting temperature, making it perfect for vector cutting with a laser cutter, but not so good when it comes to milling and drilling. The cast acrylic is good for laser engraving, allowing for a great engraving that doesn’t offer that big of a contrast.
Now, after knowing what types of acrylic there are, we can move on to working with this material. Due to the fact that the edges of a cut piece of a cut acrylic tend to be frosty, most people wonder how to polish it. Well, the best way to do that is by flame polishing, by slowly torching the edges in order for them to get a transparent polished look. However, the edges that ought to be glues should not be polished; keep that in mind.
When it comes to bending, people should know that it isn’t difficult, but it needs to be done right. You need a strip heater, and then the acrylic ought to start getting heated. You need to wait for the acrylic to soften up a bit, and then you can bend it to the angle you’ve wanted. This can also be done with a toaster oven. Keep in mind that you ought to use a piece of wood or metal against which you’re going to bend the acrylic in order to get clean corners.
The best way to cut the acrylic in order to get straight cuts is by a plastic-scoring blade. Make sure you use a guide for this. Start cutting, and then, just lightly tap the acrylic in order for it to snap in two. You can also use traditional blade tools like band saw, jigsaw, or even table saw, but it is recommended that you buy some high tooth plastic blades for them!
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To properly glue the acrylic, you ought to use the solvent-based glues. This makes the two pieces of acrylic soften their surfaces, which allows for a welding process to occus, which chemically bonds the two pieces together.
If you wish to drill a piece of acrylic, you really shouldn’t use the conventional metal or wood drill bits, because there is a good chance that you might end up cracking the acrylic. If the acyrylic sheet is thin, you ought to use a step drill bit, and if the piece is thick, go ahead and use the conventional ones, but just make sure you put some masking take on the spot you’re planning to drill, in order to protect and strenghten it.