Acrylic

From ProtoLab Wiki
Acrylic Samples

About Acrylic

Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), also commonly known as acrylic or acrylic glass is a transparent thermoplastic often used in sheet form as a lightweight or shatter-resistant alternative to glass. The Idea Shop stocks acrylic in following thickness and respective colors:

0.0625" (1.5mm) Acrylic
white, black
0.125" (3mm) Acrylic:
opaque red, transparent red, clear, orange, white, black
0.25" (6mm) Acrylic
glass texture, clear, white, black

Working with Acrylic

Acrylic can be used in many different ways and also can be formed into different shapes and sizes. Depending on the scope of the project you either need to just use a laser cutter to cut your geometry or use a combination of methods listed below to fabricate your design.

Engraving

Acrylic Samples

Engraving is the process of incising small groves of patterns or shapes onto a hard surface. This process can be used to easily personalize items and imprint a specific drawing or sketch on a acrylic item. The easiest way of engraving is using the laser cutter since it is also designed for engraving besides cutting material. In order to engrave your parts, open your geometry in AUTOCAD and select the areas that need to be rastered and then in the layer selection menu select raster (represented by red color), after that follow the rest of laser cutting process explained here

Cutting

There are may ways of cutting acrylic, depending on the geometry being cut and the size of the cut some tools give better results than other tools.

For a cut length that fits inside a 24" by 18" box
The the "'laser cutter"' is the ideal tool to use.
The "'band saw"' is also a good alternative where the laser is cant be used but you need cut geometry that has curves and the material is too thick for the laser i.e 0.5". The band saw can follow almost any cut geometry, ideal for small parts. But note that the band saws cut quality and accuracy depends on the user and more than likely not be a match for the quality and accuracy the laser cutter will produce.
If the cut length is bigger than 24" by 18" then there are a couple of options listed below
The "'Pannel Saw"' is only ideal to make straight cut lines.
If the part you are trying to cut also has intricate geometry then the ShopSabre CNC can be used.

Adhering

Adhering acrylic can be a tedious task and would require lots of patience. Ways to adhere acrylic are listed below:

Using acrylic solvent

Note: always wear surgical gloves before working with acrylic solvent. Its is also a highly flammable substance Acrylic solvent is low viscosity transparent fluid that will bond and dissolve two sections of acrylic permanently. The two bonding pieces must be held securely together using clamps or a jig. Now the acrylic solvent can now be applied on the bonding surface. Since acrylic solvent has low viscosity it is easy to make a mess and over flow the solvent on the bonding surface, make sure to not use your hands or anything else to dab away the excess solvent as it may imprint the material texture on the surface of the acrylic. In a situation where there is excess solvent on the bonding surface, use a paper towel and place it in contact with the solvent not the acrylic surface and wait for the paper towel to absorb the excess solvent. The curing time of bonded pieces varies depending based on size and shape of the bonding area. The pieces that are being bonded together must be held in place for at least 5 mins(again depends on the bonding shape and size) before letting go and allowing minimum 12 hours for the solvent to cure before exerting load on it. Use of excess acrylic may leave frosty texture around the bonding surfaces.

Using superglue

Note: always wear surgical gloves before working with super glue. Idea shop stocks two varieties of super glue, a high viscosity and low viscosity super glue. depending on the type of bond one is attempting to make, you could utilize one or the other. For bonding surfaces which have many crevices and inlets using low viscosity super glue is ideal. For bonding external surfaces high viscosity super glue is ideal. The two bonding pieces must be held securely together using clamps or a jig. Now super glue can be applied on the bonding surfaces. Super glue requires any where form 2-3 mins to dry and should be given minimum 2 hrs before exerting loads on the bonded parts. Unlike acrylic solvent It is hard to clean off excess super glue without altering the finish of acrylic, using isopropyl alcohol to clean off excess super glue will help but, will not completely remove all of the super glue. If excess superglue is used to bond acrylic surfaces it will leave a "frosty" texture around the bonding surfaces.

Vacuum Forming

Bending

Safety and Data Sheet