View Full Version : Material Suggestions?

Kathy Madan
09-14-2010, 7:31 PM
I have a customer looking for plastic tags. They would like engraving on both sides and they must be fairly durable as they are used both inside and outside. They also need 2 different colored tags and want them easy to read, so good color contrast is necessary.

I was thinking of using 3 ply plastic material but I can't seem to find any in a laserable product. Next option would be regular material and glue both pieces together, but wasn't thrilled about that option. I thought about using acrylic, but the black acrylic I have on hand did not give me enough contrast to make it easy to read at a distance. It's old material, so maybe I don't have the right stuff. Don't want to color fill as the price is going to get too high.

Does anyone have any other suggestions to offer?

Dan Hintz
09-14-2010, 7:41 PM
If there are enough tags to warrant it, the major houses (IPI, etc.) will glue up custom colors/layers for you... typical minimum order is two full sheets.

Larry Bratton
09-14-2010, 8:03 PM
I have been engraving some black cast acrylic lately. It engraves white to a point. I fill it with Winton's artist oil paint. No big deal, engrave it at 600dpi and then just rub the Winton's in with your finger, let it dry and then buff off the excess. Looks good and should be durable.

Kathy Madan
09-14-2010, 8:36 PM
Dan, not quite a large enough order for 2 full sheets. It will be 1 plus a little. But that gave me a thought. I could buy 1 ply sheets and glue them before cutting. That would save time and alignment issues with individual pieces.

My black acrylic is sort of white also, but really don't want to take the time to color fill, since I am not very quick at it. I may shoot them a price for it though, just to see.

Randy Digby
09-14-2010, 10:13 PM
My experience is that you can laser engrave the rotary plastic as long as it is matte finish (usually thinner than satin), but you can't cut it. You can laser score and snap it and use a corner rounder (if you have one) if you need rounded corners. You wouldn't want to do a lot of it, and if it's satin finish, you may not can laser it with a decent finish at all.

George D Gabert
09-15-2010, 8:48 AM
Could you rattle can spray both sides with plastic paint and then use laser? Plastic furniture paint is very durable.


Scott Shepherd
09-15-2010, 8:51 AM
Two things, one, I agree with Randy, I have engraved 3 ply many times with my laser. Just takes more than one pass for sure.

Two, consider subbing it out to a someone with a rotary engraver. You'll make money and no almost nothing, which means you can be making money on another job while someone else runs that one.

Mike Null
09-15-2010, 9:07 AM
Those Newing Halls she has are among the best of rotary engravers.

I would use the rotary material since it has a thicker cap and will weather better.

Scott Shepherd
09-15-2010, 10:24 AM
Good call Mike, I didn't notice the machines in the signature!

Just rotary engrave them!

Kathy Madan
09-15-2010, 1:29 PM
Rotary engraving is always an option, but I have found that I usually can laser engrave faster. I ran some tests on an old piece of 3 ply texture material and found that it cuts cleaner than I expected in the laser. Stinks something terrible tho. I was going to try some LaserMax as they rate that as outdoor material. I was going to try gluing the sheets together first, then do the lasering and cutting.

The texture material holds up well outside but definitely takes a minimum of 2 laser passes to even come close to looking decent. It's much cleaner and crisp on the rotary cutter. I haven't ever even tried to cut all the way thru 1/8" material with the rotary. Anyone try this? What kind of cutter would you use? I don't use this thick material very often, so do not have a quick way to cut and shape these without using the laser.

Ok, time to run some time trials on the rotary.

Randy Digby
09-15-2010, 2:56 PM
Kathy, there is a cutter made for cutting the 1/16" laminate. It is basically a small end mill, or a standard engraving cutter with vertial sides instead of tapered. When I rotary engraved, I would take two passes to cut thru. Antares cutters has them listed as Parallel Cutters.

Kathy Madan
09-15-2010, 4:06 PM
Thanks Randy, we already use them with the 1/16", but not so sure about the 1/8" material and cutting with one of those.
Guess I could call Antares and see what they say.