View Full Version : What's the best stuff for cleaning acrylic.

donald bugansky
12-20-2009, 11:44 PM
We'll, with the help of many of you and the generosity of some members who shared Christmas Ornaments...well to say the least...after the Lexan debacle I made lots of personalized ornaments for gift labels out of acylic.

Some of these are pretty detailed with lots of pockets & holes. If you mask the acrylic, you spend some time getting all the mask off.

What's the best cleaner for getting the "residue" off the acrylic after engraving and cutting it?

I've got Novus 2 fine scratch remover but it's not much good for just cleaning up the ornament.

Any secret sauce/cleaners you're willing to share that work real well (with the exception of brake fluid :) that doesn't cause stress cracks?

Thx - Bugs

Art Anderson
12-21-2009, 2:30 AM

I've no such answer, but I'm tagging on to your thread as I have the same question. I also have a Trotec Speedy 300 but a lowly 45 watts. :)

My issue is the "smoky" redeposit on the underside of the acrylic when using the honeycomb base. Trotec's fume extraction is across the top of the surface from the rear which works well, but when cutting, the fumes seem trapped in the base. I've considered raising the acrylic up on struts of some sort, or dropping a box below the honeycomb which contains a pattern-drilled top and a vent fan to suck the vapors down. The fan would simply vent into the work area, but might allow the vapors to cool and solidify before they could stick to the surface.

I'm going to wait, however,to see what the response is from those who have done this a lot longer than I have. I really would like to know an easy removal trick rather than reinventing the wheel!

Thanks for allowing me to tag along! :cool:

Art Anderson
Marquette, Michigan
(where the snowbanks mean winter is really here!)

Rodne Gold
12-21-2009, 6:41 AM
The residues are mostly plastic and other byproducts that have resolidified.

You have 2 options - abrade em away or disolve em away.
Very light abraisives and plastic polishes work best if you really don't come right then comes the schlep of buffing.
If the solvent disolves the byproduct , then it obviously affects the plastics too - sometimes like promoting stress cracks , sometimes by slight dulling of surfaces..so rather use these as last resorts

Household cleaner creams like handy andy rubbed on with a sponge work well as do novus polishes etc. Sponge allows you to get to crooks and crevices and crannys. Rinse and dry.

Solvents I have found "safe" (relatively) are Benziene (carcinogenic) and citrus oil , worst solvent to use is acetone.
Mostly I find a toothbrush and soapy water , albeit requiring some elbow grease , work for me most of the time.
I never cut pex on honeycomb . rather just scatter a few 8mm blocks around and rest em on that
I also cut , wherever possible with both sides protected.
As to masking , well the cheapest paper backed low tack vinyl application tape will just roll off in a second if you wet it after you cut the thing.
I think most of you would get better results tweaking your air assist and giving it some serious welly rather than fiddle with much else. air assit is the key to engraving and cuttig acrylic.

Steve Clarkson
12-21-2009, 6:46 AM
Bugs.......have they introduced you to FIRE yet?????

Dan Hintz
12-21-2009, 6:49 AM
Bugs.......have they introduced you to FIRE yet?????
Well, this just took a dangerous turn ;)

Mike Null
12-21-2009, 6:58 AM

I prefer to cut and engrave acrylic with the mask in place as long as it's not a plastic mask. If it is I use transfer paper as a mask. It's much easier to remove the mask than clean with solvents and risk damaging the plastic.

As has been said in other threads cast acrylic is the material to use for most decorative projects as it won't craze and crack like the extruded.

I use denatured alcohol to clean cast acrylic and soap and water for extruded.

Scott Shepherd
12-21-2009, 8:25 AM
A few things, unless I'm looking at this wrong, you engraved that on the front side. You might try reversing the image and engraving it, so the image is engraved on the backside.

On the residue, I don't often have that issue, and I've come to the conclusion most (not all, but most) of it can be done away with my reducing the power. We have a tendency to overpower clear acrylic. It really don't take much to mark or cut clear, thin acrylic. You can probably mark it in the 10-20% range. The less the better. Same on cutting, start low and work up so it just cuts through.

Like Rodney, I have a number of scrap pieces of 1/2" material than came from a job. I think they are about 1/2" square, 1" long, and I put them in several places on the table and set the material on that.

So try reverse engraving, very light power (just enough to give you the mark you want), and raise it off the table.

If anyone is using transfer tape, it comes in low tack, medium tack, and high tack. You might get away with low, but medium is certainly enough to mask plastic with. No need for high tack.

pete hagan
12-21-2009, 10:31 PM
So here is my two cents worth... Raise the workpiece up from the table with scraps and once you have the piece de-masked, any of the white residue can easily be flamed off with a simple torch. Just be very quick with the torch and never leave the flame in one spot for more than a fraction of a second.

I've used simple propane torches in the past (plumbing) when I didn't want to get the polisher out. Just remember that you need to EVENLY heat the piece up or it could easily curl.

donald bugansky
12-22-2009, 12:43 AM
I'll give the suggestions a try and post my results.

Thanks again for sharing.

Deane Shepard
12-22-2009, 2:04 AM
I've had pretty good luck taking stuff off of acrylic with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Also, the "Original Bike Spirits Spray Cleaner and Polish" does a nice job for a final shine. I use it on my Gold Wing and was having trouble getting fingerprints and the odd bit of adhesive residue off of my mirrored acrylic and it solved the problem in short order. FWIW, many other bike riders say Lemon Pledge works pretty well as a polish for the plastic parts on the motorcycle, but I have never tried it.

Deane Shepard
ULS M360

Frank Corker
12-22-2009, 4:31 PM
Deane I have to say that using a magic eraser on clear acrylic is not a good idea, it is an abrasive substance and it will score the surface with very minute scratches which show up when viewed into the light. Personally I have had no problems using isoproponal alcohol, but I do accept that certain acrylics are made in different ways, some are prone to cracking but I haven't encountered that. Sometimes a gentle rub with a soft cloth and brasso will remove the residue, but it's still hard work with every method that you choose.

Dee Gallo
12-22-2009, 8:45 PM
Bugs, what IS all that stuff? I never get any residue like that, it looks like shredded paper towel and tiny threads...

I use cast from Delvies which comes with paper mask. I remove the top (laser) side and leave the bottom (grid) side. To remove it, I use a plastic razor blade to start it and peel it off in big pieces. For tiny bits, the plastic razor zips them right off.

To clean off smoke, I use denatured alcohol and a miracle cloth, which leaves no marks or residue.

BTW- on a related topic, I just completed a last-minute job for a guy who waited for a "special Christmas present" - I did a photo LED nightlight and thought I'd try something different (read: easy and fast). I took the color (300 dpi) photo, made the background all black, then ran the Gold Method. I saved it as bitmap and put it into Corel. After making a cut hairline, I ran the job and it came out GREAT. So much for playing with Photoshop levels, contrast, brightness, etc. Sometimes the pic is good enough to just work.

cheers, dee

Deane Shepard
12-22-2009, 11:30 PM
Dee- You make a good point. As I think about it, I have used it mostly on engravers plastic. The bike polish I have used a lot on clear and it works great.

Deane Shepard
ULS M360

James Stokes
12-23-2009, 1:07 AM
I usually take the factory paper off then recover with transfer tape. After cutting and engraving a wet wash cloth will remove the tape

donald bugansky
12-23-2009, 4:59 PM

I only have 2 places around here to buy acrylic and it's the 2 big home improvement places. Both sell only Optix (unless you want lexan...but that's another whole story)

(http://www.plaskolite.com/products/flat_sheet/optix/). Can't find any info related to if it's cast or extruded.

Any suggestions where to buy better product for reasonable price. Remember, I'm just having fun making stuff for grandkids so I don't need premium grade for resale.

By the way, I found a chart on cleaners/solvents for acrylic....believe it or not but brake fluid is marked as "good" on the chart.

The chart (pdf file I had to compress due to site limitations) is attached.

Mike Null
12-23-2009, 5:07 PM
Check the yellow pages for plastics suppliers. There should be plenty of them up there. They may even sell their off cuts by the pound.

Dan Hintz
12-24-2009, 5:55 PM
By the way, I found a chart on cleaners/solvents for acrylic....believe it or not but brake fluid is marked as "good" on the chart.
Which is fine, as long as it was not processed with a laser. CNCing acrylic is quite common