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Etching Plastics?


#1

Dear all , Does anyone know if you can etch plastics? If Yes how would
you do this? Is there any other material other then glass and metal
that can be etched? If yes how do you do this?

thanks in Advance Marjorie Lord.


#2

Marjorie, We etch plastics with a CO2 laser. Unfortunately not all
plastics a created equal. Some etch quite well while others just
scorch. Shane Morris Druid’s Grove Unique Gifts


#3

Well, I suppose you could, but one problem would be that most
solvents for plastics tend to soften them before they dissolve them.
You’d likely get some distortion. If you wanted to use acids (no, you
don’t) you’d be getting involved with nastier materials than you want
to.

Best way I think would be to use a grit blasting process, rather than
chemical etching. Grit blasting is well established commercially for
making designs on glass, stone (headstones) and wood (signs).

Kevin (NW England, UK)


#4
    Marjorie, We etch plastics with a CO2 laser.  Unfortunately not
all plastics a created equal.  Some etch quite well while others
just scorch. Shane Morris Druid's Grove Unique Gifts 

What is a CO2 Laser?


#5

Hi Marjorie I guess the only etchable plastic I know is the
photopolymer rubberlike plastic which reacts with the UV light and
could be vulcanized or burnt out for casting, they use it to make
rubber stamps also. it’s wonderful! Most rigid plastics are heat
injected in metal molds like the ones they use for class rings casting
or toy industry. some other are thermoformed for a whole variety of
applications including hollow jewelry and thousands of industrial
uses,but etching plastics? I’ve never heard of it. Marco


#6

A laser is essentially a machine which takes electrical and
electromagnetic energy and converts it to a beam of energy. Lasers are
defined by the type of material used to generate the energy, in this
case Carbon Dioxide or CO2. The one in our shop is an Epilog 25 watt.
Its great for etching glass, stone, wood and plastic but is not strong
enough to even leave a mark on metal.


#7
    Well, I suppose you could, but one problem would be that most
solvents for plastics tend to soften them before they dissolve
them. You'd likely get some distortion.  If you wanted to use acids
(no, you don't) you'd be getting involved with nastier materials
than you want to. 
    Best way I think would be to use a grit blasting process,
rather than chemical etching.  Grit blasting is well established
commercially for making designs on glass, stone (headstones) and
wood (signs). 

Kevin (NW England, UK)

Actually most plastics are rather resistant to sandblasting etching
unless they are REAL hard. Another thing to try is the type of
plastic that is hot water softened (Douglas and Sturgess in San
Francisco has some called ADAPT-IT) This is a formable thermoplastic
available in flat sheets and pellet forms. Once it cools (after
heating in 160-180 deg F or 70-80 deg C), it is similar in hardeness
to the plastic cutting boards or melted plastic milk cartons. I use
it to build up handles on dental tools and the like. If I was using
gravers alot, I sure would try this material for making the graver
handles (you can “custom” fit the plastic to your hand/grip while it
is warm and it sticks to the tool very well).

For the feather, If one were to coat it first in silicon or other
release -read experiment here- I would think the feather could be
pressed into the warm plastic, the plastic let set, the feather
removed and you would have a GREAT impression/mold/die. Something to
think about and maybe to try.

John Dach
MLCE.net