Acrylic is available in both transparent and opaque forms. It is used for Baths, sinks and fish tanks... from colourful clocks to replacement skylights... Acrylic Uses Opaque Acrylic Dial Transparent Acrylic Salad Servers Menu Stands Clear Boxes
Acrylic is classed as a Thermoplastic. This means that it becomes soft and mouldable on heating without undergoing any significant chemical change. This process can be repeated many times. Acrylic is available in a wide range of colours. Acrylic sheet is supplied with a protective film covering attached to each side. This is to prevent the acrylic being scratched and should be left in place as long as possible. Acrylic Properties Bending Acrylic on a strip heater Protective covering Letter Rack model
While the Coping Saw can be used to cut simple curves in acrylic sheet it tends to leave a coarser finish. Coping Saw Cutting Acrylic Cut close to the vice to reduce the risk of the acrylic cracking
Piercing Saw Cutting Acrylic The Piercing Saw is used to cut tight curves in thin metal and acrylic sheet The teeth on a Piercing saw blade should point backwards. This will help prevent blade breakages.
The Hacksaw can be used to cut straight lines in metal and plastic. Hacksaw Cutting Acrylic
The Jnr Hacksaw can be used to cut straight lines in small pieces of metal and plastic. Junior Hacksaw Cutting Acrylic
Scroll Saw Cutting Acrylic The quickest method of cutting intricate shapes in acrylic is the Scroll Saw. This machine is capable of producing an excellent finish. When replacing the blade, make sure the teeth point downward. This helps hold the work on the table as you cut.
To obtain the best results when drilling Acrylic it is better to use a special drill bit. Conventional high speed drill bits do not work well with hard plastics. They will "ride up" a conventional drill bit and crack. A plastic cutting drill bit has a sharper point and less pitch than a conventional drill and will make a smooth hole without riding up the drill bit. Slow to medium speeds work best when working with acrylics. Drilling Acrylic If customised plastics drill bits are unavailable then conventional twist drill bits can be used however great care must be taken to hold the Acrylic securely and you must lower the drill at a slow even rate.
Filing Acrylic When cutting Acrylic it is easy to chip the edges. To remove these chips and give the edge a good finish follow these steps. Chipped Edge
Stage 1 : Use a course file to remove the worst of the chips.
Stage 2 : Switch to a finer file and repeat the process. Warding File
Stage 3 : Hold the file at right angles to the work piece and Draw File the edge
Stage 4: Finish the edge with silicon carbide paper (Make sure you remove all file marks) Wet & Dry Silicon carbide paper
Stage 5: Finally apply a little acrylic polish to a soft cloth and polish the edge. Acrylic Polish
The Strip Heater is used to bend sheet acrylic. The acrylic is held above the heating element and turned over every 30 seconds. After 2 to 3 min the plastic will bend easily. Remember the Strip Heater can get very hot Bending Acrylic Strip Heater
Bending Acrylic To obtain more accurate results it is often better making a wooden former to bend the acrylic round. Wooden Former Hot Wire Strip Heater
The oven can be used to heat a whole sheet of acrylic to make it soft and flexible. This soft acrylic can then be pressed into shape in a mould. A typical example is this acrylic windscreen shown on the right Forming Acrylic Oven
Forming an Acrylic Handle Wooden Jig Plastic Blank To form a plastic handle you first need to make a Jig. Great care must be taken to obtain a good finish on the jig as any imperfections will be picked up on the acrylic. Smooth finish required The Plastic blank must also be finished to a high standard. All holes drilled and edges polished
Set the Oven to 160˚C Forming an Acrylic Handle When the oven has reached the correct temperature place the Acrylic blank inside and heat until it becomes soft and pliable (Keep a close watch on the plastic to prevent it overheating and burning) Oven Wear Gloves when handling hot Acrylic
Forming an Acrylic Handle Clamp the hot acrylic blank in the jig and allow to cool. Shaped Acrylic Handle
Vacuum Forming Acrylic Acrylic Sink Acrylic Bath Moulds Acrylic can also be Vacuum Formed to produce larger items like baths and sinks. (See Focus on Plastics for further details) Vacuum Forming Machine
Tensol Cement The adhesive used to stick Acrylic to Acrylic is called Tensol Cement. Gluing Process 1) Roughen the two surfaces to be glued with Emery cloth. 2) Apply a thin layer of glue. 3) Press two parts together and leave for 30 min.