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 Post subject: Window etching...
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 8:49 pm 
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Do you guys have a good tutorial or link to one on window etching? or maybe you could just give me some tips, like, engraver, or dremel? deep cuts? barely breach the surface? angle? anything would help before i just jump in and do it.

thanks


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2004 2:15 am 
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Etching is a large part of what I do, I can give you some tips, if you have specific questions feel free to ask.

For one thing, if you're serious about doing hand etching for your rigs or to learn it as an artform at all, forget the dremel. The tool I use is called an Optima II, it's 10,000rpm faster than the top dremel, doesn't overheat, is much more lightweight, the controls are in a seperate box and the etching/engraving/carving tool itself is only a few times larger than a pen and doesn't weigh very much. In all it's a heck of a lot easier to handle and work with and you can get a lot better detail work done with it.

For most of my etching I use sets of diamond lapidary tools that fit the colet of the tool, which is like a dremel's in many ways, you can replace the colet with a larger one if need be as well. The bits go in, you turn the clamp and that's it, you're ready to go. The speed is adjustable from 0 to 45,000 rpm in minute increments, not with a switch, so you can set the speed very precicely.

Now for the down side, the tool runs about $325.00. Which is considerably more than a dremel. But the job it does is vastly superior. It'll do everything a dremel can do and then some though. Imagine a dremel with a flexshaft that never seizes up, never gets hot, is only the thickness of a speaker wire and you don't have to have it hanging over your shoulder most of the time for it to work. Really, it's worth every penny.

Now when it comes to what you intend to etch on, any form of plexi will do, acrylic, lexan, etc and of almost any thickness. But some will yield better results than others. Harder plastics will be able to let you do more fine detail work because often the tool will get hot and melt the softer plastics, causing a lot of pick marks and uneven etching. Hardness of plexi is measured in rockwell, like jewels, metal and other items. The harder the better. These tools are able to etch on diamonds, so you're not likely to find a plastic that's too hard. But you want to be mindful of britelness. If it's too hard AND too thin it might shatter. In most cases you'll not need to even think about this because you won't find a large selection of plastics at Home Depot or Lowes or whatever. You have to go to specialtiy shops for this stuff. Incidentally, if you want to try something really freaky, you can also use this to etch on a case itself, right on the metal, creating some rather interesting patterns. I've tried it and came up with something rather wild looking. No guts in the case though, just an experiment.

As for templating, that's easy enough, you just print out your pattern in reverse, tape it to the side you want to see the image from and etch from the rear. (So lettering should be done in reverse, keep that in mind). The thicker the plexi the more difficult of a time you'll have keeping with the pattern, as the thickness will mean you're etching that far above the actual pattern. I find it's best to work with only 1 good strong light rather than several light sources, as this creates some strange effects when you're etching. And I prefer an overhead light to any light coming in from the sides. Once you try it you'll see what I mean if you use a suitably thick piece of plastic. My own technique is to only use a pattern (if I need to) to do the overall shape, outlines and indication marks and then eyeball it from there, it's actually easier to do it that way and you can stray from the pattern where you need to.

If you're etching a pattern that is not complex but uses very bold lines (say a sillhouette) then you need to be careful about how you're etching. Criss crossing patterns with a finer tip bit will look really bad. I use a ball tip for that kind of thing and minimal pressure. You want to keep the depth of your etch as even as you can. Normally this is a job better suited for laser etchers, but, that's expensive and most of us can't afford it, at least on any kind of scale. It can be done by hand but it's harder than a more complex piece because you want to try to make it look so uniform.

If you plan to use LED's in the plastic, keep in mind that a deeper etch will yeild a better refraction of the light but will also be harder to do complex designs. So you will have to experiment until you find the way that works best for you. I've found that my background in pyrography (woodburning) was very helpful in learning to etch plastic, glass and metal. Both art forms are also very much akin to tattooing. I may get into that some day. :)

Any questions just ask.

Regards,
Mike


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2004 8:46 pm 
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thanks, i definitly wont be buying that tool though (way out of my price range) I'm probably only going to do this once, so I'll probably use my dremel.

This is what I plan on putting on the plexi(1/8'' semi-hard)
Image
The bold lines around it I may thin out, and I may add detail such as hair, and maybe shadow(I don't think it would fit the pic though)

If I'm using a dremel, what bits do you suggest for this pic? and are there any particular patterns I should use while cutting for this particular pic?

Also, if I wanted to use an engraver (which would be the cheepest way($20), but may be the least efficient), would that be sufficient enough or should I stick with the dremel? If it would be sufficient enough, any suggestions on cutting methods?

I really appreciate this seeing as this is my first window etch, and I want to do it right the first time. Even though I work at an ACE hardware and I can get plexi for virtually free, I don't want to have to do it over and over again.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2004 11:48 pm 
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I'd still say, practice first, if you can, get at least a few pieces to try it out on, then go with the best of the lot. There's no way to be 100% sure you won't slip up on an etch, life's that way, you know. Anyway, probably the best bet for something like that is still to use the diamond lapidary bits, which I was able to find in bulk on EBay for dirt cheap (2 sets of 36 in 1/32nd and 3/16ths) for $25+Shipping.

Etching that circle would probably be best done with a sandblaster but, if you can't do that, then I'd recommend using a rounded tip bit with even pressure all around. You might want to get some kind of circular something, dunno what, maybe a metal can lid or something, so you can ensure you make a perfect circle and that the edge is clean.

For the rest of it, really, you'd probably switch up thicknesses of the bits you use for various parts of the design, a smaller bit for the legs in the background and a heavier one for the foreground lines. Use a light touch at first when you're working through the plexi with the pattern behind it, just make the marks so you know where to go and then remove the pattern and fill out the design more. For something like that you want your lines to be as clean as possable. So it might take longer as you go over parts to make sure you have the lines smooth and clean. But it'll just take practice to get the technique down. Shouldn't be too much of a problem.

For this yes, you can probably use the dremel, but stop and take breaks often, let the tool cool down several times during the progress. Espically where you're doing heavier lines.

Good luck,
Mike


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2004 5:52 pm 
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I've never done it, but I always got the impression that you could cut a pattern out of rubber and sandblast through onto the lexan/plexiglass. Is that a bad approach?


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2004 7:49 pm 
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I have been considering that method. I may use regular sand paper and make a frosted effect. Just an idea though.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2004 12:31 am 
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Well, for simple patterns you can do that, sure, though I'm not positive about the rubber part of it. Usually people use something like a strong mylar or similar with an adheasive. Rubber might shift too much, but then, I've not tried it to say for sure.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2004 12:09 pm 
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The Insane Modder wrote:
Well, for simple patterns you can do that, sure, though I'm not positive about the rubber part of it. Usually people use something like a strong mylar or similar with an adheasive. Rubber might shift too much, but then, I've not tried it to say for sure.


Its not actually "rubber". I can't remember the name. It basicallly the same stuff they surface drafting tables with. You know - that green rubbery stuff. It works great for sand blasting because it "bounces" the particles off and doesn't wear as fast. But its pricey. They use it in the sign making industry for sand blasting wood, plastic and even rock. Works great when you need to make deep cuts. I think thick plastic would work fine here. He is just trying to "frost" it, not remove a ton of material.

Manta

PS - yeah - I work at a sign company for a while. I sucked at it :oops:


here http://www.graphtecusa.com/support/tech ... t_sand.php


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2004 5:50 pm 
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I was trying to remember what the gloves in our sandblasting machine are made of....Probably the aforementioned material.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2004 10:02 pm 
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Ah, well, I don't do sandblasting so I dunno about that stuff, but, I do recall reading that sand is not even used, usually it's other stuff, the coarsest of which is walnut shells, right?


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2004 5:23 am 
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I believe so... but I could be wrong.

I think I'm just gonna go with either an engraver to make my etch, or the frosting technique. I like the look of the frosting because it makes your comp look like it's cold, which doesn't mean it is though...

anyway, thank you for all the advice you guys have been giving, I really appreciate it.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2004 5:46 am 
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Its can be lots of things.... usually tiny glass beads, or for cars, baking powder.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2004 2:57 am 
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Baking powder, really? Never heard of that. Hmm, must be for fine work huh? Well, good luck with the project dude, let us see the finished results okay?

Mike


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2004 5:30 am 
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will do, I plan on having it done by next week. I'm kinda busy with signing up for the Navy, so, I have no time. and I still have some dremeling to do. I'll post pics once I'm done though.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2004 2:19 pm 
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What would you like to know?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2004 3:07 pm 
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isnt that company into engraving rocks? thats a little different...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2004 3:08 pm 
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WhiteRabbit22 wrote:
isnt that company into engraving rocks? thats a little different...


Right, but when I made those, I did the same thing to glass, metal, etc.

You can do WAY more with engraving opposed to etching.


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