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Frances Koellish
11-19-2008, 10:52 AM
I have the opportunity to do some Plastic Light Switches for a hospital. Is this material safe to do with a laser or would it have PVC in it? They are supplying the switches and have told me they are thermo plastic. Since I have no idea I thought I would ask the experts here.

Bob Keyes
11-19-2008, 11:07 AM
Frances,

I've done a bunch for an electrical contractor. No problem here.

Dave Johnson29
11-19-2008, 11:41 AM
They are supplying the switches and have told me they are thermo plastic.

Hi Frances,

Thermoplastic just means that small plastic pellets are molded with heat and can be un-molded. :D:D er, make that they will melt back to a blob if they get too hot.

The other common plastic type is Thermosetting which means that once the powder is molded with heat that's it, it will char or burn but never melt again. You can tell thermosetting plastics as they are hard and clunk (almost like glass) when clicked against a pair of pliers for instance. They will also often shatter or crack when dropped onto concrete. Thermosetting plastics will bounce.

There are ways to guess pretty closely at the Thermoplastic composition but it takes quite some training and experience to do so. In my past, I have welded (not on the laser) many different types of plastics and am fairly conversant with the defining process. I will go check a thermoplastic light plate, however there is no guarantee the one I test will be the same as yours, but I would be very surprised if it is not ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) and should be fine for you to laser.

Best that you do a search online and look for a data-sheet to satisfy yourself of the components in ABS though.

This is another case for the fume and smoke extraction system I suggested in a recent thread.

OK, old smokey has just returned. My guess for the plate I just torched (lightly) :) is that it is most likely ABS.

Mike Null
11-19-2008, 11:56 AM
I would agree that they can be engraved and probably should be color filled for contrast.

Anthony Scira
11-19-2008, 8:59 PM
Wow around here they are only able to use stainless steel plates in hospitals. An then have to be marked red which the laser can not do. Its been a bummer.

Frances Koellish
11-19-2008, 9:24 PM
Thanks for your replies you guys are great. I will be color filling. I am already experimenting and they are looking pretty good. Now if someone can tell me how to get my name so it is not all caps I will be a happy camper. I didn't realize that would happen when I posted it is my first post. Looks like I am shouting out my name.:eek:

Keith Outten
11-19-2008, 11:28 PM
Frances,

Ask and Ye Shall Receive :)