New Skill Friday - Solvent Cement
For what ever reason, Fridays around Brilliant Labs HQ always seem to be the day to re-visit old projects. About six months ago, we were finally comfortable with our then new Glowforge Laser Cutter that we decided to create a door-sign that was as brilliant as our namesake.
I thought it would be hard to find colour acrylic that would match the turquoise, purple, green, pink and yellow in our logo, however I remembered that our CNC Manufacturer, Inventables, sold materials much more diverse than wood, including an array of acrylic. Needless to say, I had fun loading up our cart with an assortment of acrylic.
After the acrylic arrived, we converted our logo into the required SVG for the cloud-based, Glowforge interface and scaled it to fill one of the 12' x 20' sheets of acrylic in the Glowforge. It was at this point that I am very glad that I paused: how on earth would I be able to align all of the pieces of our logo on a base sheet of white acrylic after they were cut out. After a quick internet search, I found a forum post that recommended using the scoring function to etch an outline of each piece to be placed on the base layer of acrylic. It turned out great! Since the base layer was white, it was very difficult to see the etch marks, which allowed the sign to retain smooth aesthetic we were hoping for.
Like many projects, I wanted the instant gratification of adhering the letters to the gleaming white base layer. I grabbed the hot glue gun and pre-arranged all of the laser cut letters white the glue gun was heating. As I raised the glue gun to start gluing, I saw the characteristic spidery glue wisps drag across the freshly scored surface. I'm glad that I once again paused to research how to properly adhere acrylic to acrylic - and by pause, I mean I put all of the letters on top of the white sign and forgot about the project until a few weeks ago when I knocked all of the letters onto the floor while trying to reach the printer. This motivated me to search the youtubes to find a tutorial that explained how to glue acrylic to acrylic.
I stumbled upon the YouTube user, Foxy Funk who creates incredibly detailed, laser cut,
acrylic earrings. As you can see in this video, many of her creations contain minuscule components that would make any surgeon nervous. Anyway, after watching the short video, I went on amazon and ordered paint syringes, acrylic solvent cement, and electronic component tweezers.
Fast-forward to today, I finally found the time to take what I learned from Foxy Funk and put the sign together. You can take a look at the video below to see a time-lapse of the process. If this is your first time using a solvent based cement, a few recommendations:
Wipe down all surfaces to be glued.
Use two-test pieces of acrylic to get the hang of how the flow rate of the solvent cement as it exits the needle.
Use the product in a well ventilated area.
Review the safety considerations in detail before supervising students or adults of any age while they are using this product.
Work quickly, this brand of solvent cement sets within minutes.
It was great to learn this skill. I'm now thinking about my next creation, perhaps an multi-layered acrylic name tag. If you have a suggestion of what I could make, please feel free to send them my way on twitter @jmrlingley.