Application Tip: Fabricating Acrylic

When it comes to acrylic there are many things you can do to enhance the look and versatility of the product. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
Care & Cleaning
The first thing to know about acrylic is cleaning. When cleaning acrylic always use a mild soap or a commercially available plastic cleaner like Novus or Brillianize. Use a lint free cloth and be very careful not to scrub too aggressively. Avoid cleaners that contain ammonia or alcohol.

Cutting & Scribing
Acrylic can be cut using several different methods.
SCRIBE: Acrylic sheets up to 1/4 inch thick can be scribe cut. Score repeatedly along a straight edge with a plastic cutting tool. Score 1/3 of the way through the sheet. Align the score with the edge of a table and apply gentle pressure to break the sheet along the score.
SAW CUTTING: Acrylic can be cut with a variety of equipment. Blade selection is critical with regards to edge finish. Table and panel saws are the best option for high volume straight cuts. A 10-inch carbide tipped blade with triple chip 80 teeth pin is recommended.

Cutting Speed

Blade Diameter                                 RPM

6 inch                                                    6400

8 inch                                                    5000

10 inch                                                  4000

12 inch                                                  3000

14 inch                                                  2800

16 inch                                                  2400

Jig, band, scroll and saber saws can also be used and are best for cutting intricate shapes and curves. Again, blade selection is critical. A fine tooth blade is a must. Acrylic can also be routed, laser cut and machined.

Drilling
Acrylic drilling is best performed on a drill press using a 60 degree bit.

Drill Bit Diameter                              RPM

1/8                                                     3500

3/16                                                   2500

1/4                                                      1800

3/8                                                      1200

1/2                                                      900

5/8                                                      700

Finishing
There are a number of things that can be done to improve the edges of acrylic. Scraping, sanding, buffing and flame polishing are some of the most popular.
Acrylic can also be cemented or glued together quite easily. There are a number of different acrylic glues available for this. Some are thin like water, others are thicker. Some adhesive is a two-part product like an epoxy.
Acrylic is a very versatile substrate. It can easily be painted, screen printed and responds well to vinyl application. It can also be thermoformed, line bent and cold formed.

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