Acrylic engraving is a sure way of adding unique and fascinating features to your acrylic materials.
You can draw virtually any design, from simple, complicated to an intricate pattern.
Obviously, you’re beginning to wonder how this can even be possible.
Well, today’s guide will take you through all the necessary processes and technique n acrylic engraving process.
Here we go.
What is Acrylic Engraving?
This is the process of printing texts or photos on acrylic sheets using an engraving machine.
It is one of the most popular acrylic fabrication techniques
Ideally, engraving produces a range of designs on acrylic sheet.
You can achieve this using high-quality laser engraving machine.
Later in this guide, you will learn more about these machines and technique in the acrylic engraving process.
Currently, laser engravers with acrylics are done large firms and even people who consider engraving and then take it as a hobby.
How to Engrave Acrylic (Step-by-step Process)
There are many ways of engraving acrylic.
In this section, you will learn about some of the most common options.
For example, you can opt for:
i. Mirrored reverse side engraving
ii. Paint veneered engraving
iii. Laser Engraving
iv. Rotary engraving techniques and tips to engrave acrylic
Now, I will discuss each technique in details to give an understanding of the same.
Engraving acrylic designs
Mirrored reverse side engraving technique
This technique forms the basis and utilizes cast acrylic during the engraving process.
The uniqueness of this technique is that it produces a mirror engraving at the back of the cast acrylic.
Normally, it forms a beautiful effect.
The step-by-step engraving in mirrored reverse side engraving technique include:
1. Preparation of the design and placing it into the laser engraver
The prepared image on the cast acrylic is placed into the laser engraver to start the engraving process.
Then, you will switch on the laser machine to begin the process.
2. Removing the product and turning the other side
The same image is then engraved on the cast acrylic to produce a clear image on the other side of the cast acrylic.
3. Removing the engraved product
After all the engraving process, the product is removed from the laser engraver.
- It hasa low minimum run
- This technique produces a clear image which gives a beautiful effect.
- It is not a faster technique.
Paint veneered engraving
This technique uses cast acrylic.
The cast-acrylic is painted first on one side before the engraving process.
When it is engraved, the cast acrylic produces a clear cut on the painted part.
Now, let’s look at acrylic engraving technique:
Laser engraving machine
Painting one side of the cast acrylic
Here, the cast acrylic is painted before the engraving starts.
Note that this engraving technique is not different from the other techniques.
The only difference is that the cast acrylic is painted on one side first.
Designing what you want to engrave on the software
Here, you’ll make a design of what he or she wants to engrave.
Placing the designed image onto the laser engraver and starting the machine
This is the third step where the engraving starts, and you should observe to see whether your desired product is produced.
Remove the engraved image from the laser machine
The engraved product is removed from the laser engraver and turning off the machine.
- It produces beautiful designs coupled with the paint on the cast acrylic
- The technique consumes too much time.
Laser Engraving technique
Here, when acrylic meets laser beam, the resultant product has an attractive look.
This is achieved when the laser vaporizes the material.
Here you need to set the wavelength of the light at 10.6 microns and setting power at around 10 watts.
You can also ensure that while laser engraving the acrylic, you get the engraved image both on both sides.
Engraving at the back is often considered beneficial.
It is because it results in good dimensional quality.
Therefore, this improves the look on the engraved acrylic.
To ensure after engraving texts and graphics look correct, make them in a reverse-reading order.
This can be achieved using your laser engraving software.
Use the “mirror” function.
Before laser engraving acrylic ensure you have the correct layout of the image.
That is, to have it engraved in the right location.
You can consider setting the machine at 5% power as well as 100% speed and using 30 watts.
Rotary engraving techniques and tips to engrave acrylic
This also forms another technique of engraving acrylics to produce attractive results.
The technique is often used when the engraved image or print is to be rotated and cut through the acrylic surface.
Here, cutters are used for engraving the acrylic in order to produce deep and fine cuts on the acrylic.
Therefore, to rotary engrave acrylic you need to ensure that the cutter’s geometry is set to the right position to produce good cuts on the acrylic.
You also need to set the right clearance angle in the rotary engraving acrylic as it allows chip clearance as well as the fine cutting edge.
Consider using the set point of 60 degrees angle cutter as well as 0.006” to 0.008” deep.
Letters can also be grooved to form a V pattern that enhances the look on the engraved acrylic.
Thus, this can be realized using a 90-degree cutter angle and using tip size as well.
On the other hand, for deep cuts on the acrylic consider using a larger cutter angle.
Adjustments can be made in rotary engraving acrylic to produce the best results by taking the following considerations;
- Consider increasing the speed of the spindle as well as reducing the feed rate.
- Using sharp cutters
- You can use tapered cutters when you intend to get beveled edges of the acrylic
Advantages of Rotary engraving
- This technique can be used to profile acrylic
- It produces clear cuts on the acrylic material
- It is a faster technique to engrave acrylic
Disadvantages of rotary engraving
- The techniques require strict adherence on the settings to produce the right results on the acrylic.
Benefits of Engraving Acrylic Material
Below are some of the main benefits of engraving acrylic material
i. Improves on the appearance of acrylics
Engraving acrylics improves the appearance of the acrylics as well as making the acrylic sheets appear beautiful.
ii. Highly readable end results
Engraving acrylics provide appeal to the prints on acrylics.
This is possible because computer software is used in the laser engraving process of acrylics.
iii. The durability of the engraved acrylic products
Well, engraving acrylics ensure that your product is very durable and can last longer without deterioration.
Acrylic engraved products such as key holders, logos and portrait photos normally take longer without rubbing.
iv. It is compatible with many products
Acrylic engraving produces varieties of products, and this makes the engraving process applicable in many areas.
For example, you can engrave acrylic to produce signboards, photos, name tags, menus, and jewelry among others.
v. Produces Accurate and exact writings
Engraving acrylics produce writings that are very accurate since the use of machine and technology is incorporated in the whole engraving process.
vi. Acrylic engraving is a safe process
Safety is paramount in the acrylic engraving process.
This is often realized by ensuring that the laser tools are operated from a distance by the use of computers.
vii. Acrylic engraving is a highly efficient process
Engraving acrylics is efficient because, during the engraving process, it is possible to use acrylic sheets of different depths.
This normally offers users multiple end results too.
viii. Acrylic engraving is a faster process
This allows the production of various designs from acrylics.
Considerations in Acrylic Engraving Process
Before you adopt any acrylic engraving technique, you need to pay attention to the following:
This is very important in the acrylic engraving process as it contributes to the quality of the acrylic engraved product.
Normally, the temperature is of vital importance.
When it is not set in the right conditions, the laser is likely to burn the acrylic.
· Consider using the right acrylic material
Therefore, you need to be specific with the right acrylic material you are using.
It is a sure way of getting the right results.
For example, when you need to get a frost white product after engraving, you ought to use cast acrylic.
· Consider the safety of yourself during the engraving
Acrylic engraving normally involves the use of lasers which often poses a danger during engraving.
You should have all the safety gear.
Common Problems in Acrylic Engraving
During acrylic engraving process, you may encounter a number of problems or challenges.
The problems may range from process issues, technique, design, etc.
For this section, the main focus will be on the most common problems. They include:
Engraving acrylic but the laser burns the material
This can be avoided by having the knowledge of the acrylic material you are using.
You should select the right conditions.
More importantly, choose the right temperature.
Also, for some acrylic engraving processes, you can start at high speed, say 100%, then lower to 5% or 10%.
Therefore, it is also important that you do a test with a spare acrylic material before starting the engraving process.
This will allows you to adjust the conditions until you have the desired results you needed.
Well, sometimes you might require direct-to-acrylic engraving.
Then what do you do to avoid the burning through?
It is important that you lower the dots per inch (DPI) for engraving.
Engraving at these lower dots per inch ascertains that the laser vaporizes at the top of the acrylic and thus doesn’t burn it.
Sometimes Acrylic does not produce a frosty white during the engraving process
It will happen when you are using the wrong acrylic.
You can use cast acrylic which will turn to frosty during the engraving process.
Sometimes during acrylic engraving, you might get an inconsistent engraving
To obtain the desired results, you need to use the tips given below;
- Use a lower resolution of about 300 dots per Inch and allows acrylic engraving.
- Alternate the black graphic to 80% black.
- During acrylic engraving, you can use a thin wet sheet of newspaper or sometimes paper towel in the engraving area.
This often helps in dissipation of heat while ensuring that there are no wrinkles in the paper or towel after its application.
- Lastly, you can ensure that the area is polished with a non-scratch scour pad in case there are shards of acrylic after the engraving process.
Engraver may not perform as fast as expected during acrylic engraving
Now, in this case, you need to ensure that you are cleaning the machine quite often.
Ensure that the optics are cleaned and checked first and this forms the initial step of correcting the problem.
It is often recommended that you check the lenses and mirrors and clean them in case they turn cloudy.
Laser engraver may fail to emit light during acrylic engraving
- Here, you need to press the control panel button and check on the status to ensure that it is turned on.
- You can as well check whether the lens is broken in case there is current, and no light is produced.
During acrylic engraving, you might find the laser is engraving at different depths
- Check whether water circulation is flowing smoothly.
- Readjusting the focal length
- Confirm whether the light path is at normal and readjust accordingly
- Readjusting the crossbeam to ensure that it is parallel
Applications of Acrylic Engraving
You can use acrylic engraving to make many products.
Acrylic key holder
· Acrylics are used to make key holders
Acrylic materials find their uses in making various designs of key holders which are preferred by many people.
The key holders come in different sizes and preferences which different suite tastes.
Below are examples of engraved key holders using acrylic.
· Business card cases
This can be designed in ways that they become very attractive and appealing to the eye.
Business cards made from acrylics through engraving process can be of companies, personal as well as business organizations.
Below is an example of engraved business card case on acrylic.
· Price list holders
This may be engraved using acrylics to come up with an attractive price list used in large business premises such as a supermarket.
Logos of companies, businesses as well as schools can be engraved using acrylics.
These are very useful and very attractive.
Menu in hotels can be engraved from acrylics, and these provide an attractive look.
· Acrylic nameplate for office desks
Engraving acrylics find their uses in offices in companies and business premises.
The name tags of the personnel in the offices can be engraved for easy identification of these people.
· Engraving photos on acrylics
Engraving acrylics finds it use here where the portraits can be engraved on acrylics to produce products which are very beautiful.
· Engraving jewelry using acrylics
Various jewelry can be made using acrylics engraving process, and this produces attractive jewels.
As you can see acrylic engraving is an important technique with so many applications in the industry.
However, it will all depend on choosing the right technique, and your understanding of the acrylic engraving process.