Fabricating ACRYLITE® Digital Print Acrylic Sheet

This sheet can be fabricated using the same machining parameters and equipment that are recommended for use with ACRYLITE® acrylic sheet, except flame-polishing (refer to ACRYLITE® extruded fabrication briefs). However, in some instances better results can be obtained if the orientation of the printed surface is taken into account during fabrication.

Cleaning

This sheet can be cleaned with a solution of mild soap or detergent and lukewarm water or ACRIFIX ® AC1010 cleaner. Use a clean soft cloth, applying only light pressure.

Storage

Skids of digital print are shipped with a double-layer polyethylene film overwrap and desiccant bags inside that protects the sheet from dirt and moisture. The overwrap should be left intact during storage to minimize warpage. Sheet must be stored horizontally to maintain flatness. Sheet surfaces should be kept free of saw chips and other debris which can penetrate the protective masking and cause indentations in the sheet. Also, it should not be stored near heat sources, as heat tends to soften and deform the sheet, or near any source of moisture, as that may lead to warpage.

Cementing

Methylene chloride-based solvent cements such as ACRIFIX® 1S0107, typically used for acrylic sheet fabrication, work well when cementing ACRYLITE® digital print. This permits the use of other acrylic products, including acrylic profiles, in conjunction with ACRYLITE® digital print. Cementing to the printed surface of the sheet is not recommended.

Cutting with Circular Saws

Conventional panel or table saws are recommended to cut ACRYLITE® digital print. Saw blades should be carbide tipped with a triple-chip design for plastics. Moderate feed rates (100-300 in/min) insure a proper cut. The blade protrusion should be 1/8–1/2” above the top of the sheet. Best results are obtained when the sheet is positioned so that the teeth of the saw blade enter the sheet on the printed surface. If positioned so the teeth enter on the other surface, very slight chipping (about 1/64” in size) of the printed surface may occur.

Cutting with Lasers

Laser technology is being rapidly accepted by the industry for quickly and accurately cutting, welding, drilling, scribing, and engraving plastics. CO2 lasers focus a large amount of light energy on a very small area which is extremely effective for cutting complex shapes in acrylic sheet. The laser beam produces a narrow kerf in the plastic allowing for close nesting of parts and minimal waste. CO2 lasers vaporize the acrylic as they advance resulting in a clean polished edge but with high stress levels. Depending on the application, annealing acrylic sheet after laser cutting may be needed to minimize the chance of crazing during the service life of the part.

Mounting

Mechanical fasteners may be used. Drill over-sized holes following the instructions found below in the Drilling section. Avoid over tightening the screws to prevent distortion of the printed acrylic. A soft washer is highly recommended to be used between any metal fastener and the acrylic surface.

Edge Finishing

Edge finishers will produce very smooth edges on this sheet. However, this may cause very slight chipping (about 1/64” in size) of the cured ink in printed materials. For most applications this will not be visible. The same depth of cut and feed settings as used with extruded sheet are recommended.

Flame Polishing

Flame polishing is not recommended for a digital print sheet. The flame will visually damage the printable surface of the sheet.

Drilling

It can be drilled with the same equipment that is used with ACRYLITE® extruded sheet. Modified drill bits designed for acrylics plastics produce the best results. A proper backing material such as plywood or another piece of acrylic should be used when drilling digital print. The backing material will help prevent chipping on the bottom surface. Rotational speeds from 500 – 1000 RPMs combined with feed rates in the 3 – 12 in/min range will usually provide good results.

Line Bending

It can be line bent quickly and easily using traditional line bending equipment. The sheet can be heated on the non-printed side with acceptable results. Line bends will have a slightly lighter appearance compared to the rest of the sheet, but this will only be visible under very close scrutiny.

Thermoforming

Thermoforming to moderate draw ratios is possible. However, as the draw ratio increases, the printable surface becomes correspondingly thinner. This may compromise the final printed product. It is recommended that a few test samples be made first to evaluate the appearance of the part.

Buffing

Buffing can change edge appearance from a matte to glossy look. For the best edge finish result, perform an initial wet sanding operation. This will remove any saw cut marks. The same buffing equipment can be used on the edge of the digital print sheet as used with other acrylic sheet.