Ponoko

Acrylic - Clear

0.060 inches 0.080 inches 0.118 inches 0.177 inches 0.220 inches 0.354 inches

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There are 5 images for this material

What is it

Acrylic (PMMA) is a thermoplastic that is available in a wide range of colors including transparent tints and clear to opaque solid colors.

How fast will this material ship?

Orders using this material will ship as fast as same day. Find out more.

Can I get a sample?

You can get a sample here.

Design Notes

Acrylic is hard and stiff as plastics go. It is sensitive to stress concentrations sharing a certain fragility with glass. This is most evident if parts are small or thin. Details should not be smaller than 1mm/0.04" as they are likely to be too fragile.

The manufacturers tolerance for the thickness of the materials is as follows:

Material thicknessPossible Range
inchesmm
0.060" / 1.5mm0.032" - 0.083"0.8 - 2.1mm
0.080" / 2.0mm0.051" - 0.100"1.3 - 2.5mm
0.118" / 3.0mm0.088" - 0.138"2.2 - 3.5mm
0.177" / 4.5mm0.139" - 0.199"3.5 - 5.1mm
0.236" / 6.0mm0.191" - 0.261"4.8 - 6.6mm
0.354" / 9.0mm0.294" - 0.384"7.4 - 9.8mm


Engraving Acrylic

There are 3 types of engraving possible with laser cutting. Area engraving, line engraving and a combination of both.

Area engraving is great it you need to mark a large area on the surface of the material. To specify area engraving set your shapes to have a fill color of black with RGB values of 0, 0, 0. The way this engraving is performed is like an old dot matrix printer except instead of dots of ink it uses pulses of the laser beam. This is a surface finish not deep enough to be used for pocketing or inlays. The depth of the engraving ranges between 0.1-0.5mm.

Line engraving is like a really shallow cut. To achieve this effect the stroke color to red with RGB values of 255, 0, 0 and set the stroke style to a width of 0.01 mm. The laser beam follows along the red lines that you have in your design and marks the surface of the material. The result is crisp but it can be a time consuming technique if you have a lot of small details like text.

Using a combination of both engraving types typically gets the best result. Set your shapes to have a fill color of black with RGB values of 0, 0, 0, the stroke color to red with RGB values of 255, 0, 0, and set the stroke style to a width of 0.01 mm. The line engraving causes the laser beam to trace around the edges of the engraved areas making them more crisp and bringing the details to life.

Construction Techniques

Creating structures from acrylic can be tricky due to variations in the material thickness. Creating a design that can accommodate variations in the material thickness is the best way to go.

For some tips on how to design for acrylic see this post.

Additionally the laser cuts at a slight taper (1-2 degrees) since the laser beam is shaped like a cone. The tapering causes one side to be slightly smaller than the other side. The taper is almost unnoticeable in 1/8" material; the thicker the material, the more noticeable the taper. When using laser-cut parts such as wheels or gears, you might need to position the parts in an alternating pattern so that the tapers “cancel out”.

Typical Uses

Acrylic is commonly used for making jewelry, tableware, electronics enclosures, conference badges, signage, book covers, point of sale displays etc

Environmental Information

Acrylic is non toxic and recyclable in some areas.

Adhesives, joints and fastenings

Acrylic can be joined with epoxy, Weldon 3, 16 and 40. Dichloromethane and chloroform. Screw joints should be pre-drilled to avoid splitting.

Tips from other designers

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Alex says:

Curious how flexible the thinnest acrylic you offer is, the 1.5mm sheet. If i get the P3 size (approx 31 inches by 15 inches), and you held it up by the center, how much sag would there be on the longer dimension at the ends? I am trying to recreate an acoustic lens and need thinness and rigidity (not so much strength) where originally metal sheets were used.

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Dan says:

The 1.5mm acrylic sags by ~2 inches at each end when held as you described.

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Seth says:

Do the custom acrylic parts come with finished edges like the sample piece does, or do customers have to finish the edges once the piece is delivered?

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Dan says:

The images and samples show how the material comes off the laser cutter, without any additional finishing. With acrylic the finish is similar to flame polishing.

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Barry says:

Does the acrylic become more opaque when etched? I'm guessing from the shadows it does, but any chance of a photo of the ponoko logo behind an etched piece?

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Dan says:

@barry - yes the acrylic gets a kind of frosted appearance where the etching is performed. It's best to order a sample or make a prototype on a P1 to see how the engraving will come out in real life. Trying to capture the subtleties in a photograph is quite difficult :(

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Lucy says:

I'm helping my son with a project from the Making Things Move: DIY Mechanisms for Inventors, Hobbyists, and Artists by Dustyn Roberts. Her book pointed us to this site to buy a sheet of 1/4 inch thick clear acrylic approximately 15 X 31, but I don't see an option for ordering 1/4 inch thick. Can someone tell me how to order that here - I'm new to this site. Thanks!

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Dan says:

You can read how to do that here - http://support.ponoko.com/entries/498894

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Lucy says:

Thank you Dan!

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justice says:

that 15% is only for variance from overall thickness requested right? meaning i wont get a sheet that is 2.7mm on one end and 3.3 on other?

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Dan says:

@justice There can be some variation within a sheet but it is usually not at each extreme. Generally I'd say it could range 0.2-0.3 within a sheet.

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Kiandra says:

Is clear acrylic etched from the back as mirror acrylic?

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Dan says:

Hi Kiandra- The mirror acrylic is the only material that we engrave from the back. The clear acrylic here is the same on both sides, so until we make your design there isn't really a front or a back. Hope that helps!

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Trang says:

Will there be a lot of light distortion if I were to sandwich two peices of acrylic together or would it look like looking through a single piece of acrylic?

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Dan says:

Hi Trang - Assuming the pieces are just sandwiched (rather than glued) the light distortion should be minimal - about the same as looking through a single piece.

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Shannon says:

Does the finished piece have a protective coating that needs to be peeled off? Wondering if I can fill the engraved portion with paint and then peel off the covering?

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Dan says:

Hi Shannon,

1.5mm and 2mm comes with a plastic or paper protective layer/tape and the rest of the thicknesses all have a layer of protective paper tape. You should be be able to use this protective tape to help paint your parts, like in this article - http://www.instructables.com/id/Improving-Laser-Etched-Acrylic-Panels-with-Acrylic/

Use black fills for area engraving and red strokes for vector line engraving.

Thanks.

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