Fabricating ACRYLITE® Reflections Mirror and Marine Grade Acrylic Sheet

ACRYLITE® Reflections mirror and Marine Grade acrylic sheet can be fabricated using the same machining parameters and equipment that are recommended for use with ACRYLITE® acrylic sheet. However, in some instances better results can be obtained if the orientation of the decorative surface is taken into account during fabrication.

Cleaning

This material can be cleaned with a solution of mild soap or detergent and lukewarm water or ACRIFIX® AC 1010 Anti-Static Cleaner. Use a clean soft cloth, applying only light pressure.

Storage

Skids of ACRYLITE® Reflections are shipped with a polyethylene film overwrap that protects the sheet from dirt and moisture. The overwrap should be left intact during storage to minimize warpage. It can be stored horizontally or vertically. When stored horizontally or at a slight angle from vertical, full support must be provided for the bottom of the sheet. The sheet's surfaces should be kept free of saw chips and other debris which can penetrate the protective masking and cause indentations in the sheet. It should not be stored near heat sources, as heat tends to soften and deform the sheet.

Cutting with Circular Saws

Conventional panel or table saws are recommended to cut the sheet. 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's gray mirror backing surface. If positioned so the teeth enter on the other surface, very slight chipping (about 1/64” in size) of the gray mirror backing may occur. Learn more here.

Cutting with Lasers

Laser technology is becoming rapidly accepted in the industry for quick and accurate cutting, welding, drilling, scribing, and engraving of 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. Learn more here.

Routing

ACRYLITE® Reflections can be routed with the same equipment used for routing extruded sheet. On most CNC routing equipment, O-flute straight and O-flute up-spiral router bits produce very good results at feed rates of 150–300 in/min and spindle speeds of 18,000–20,000 RPM. For best results when using an up-spiral bit, position the sheet so that the gray mirror backing faces away from the collet. Learn more here.

Cementing

Methylene chloride-based solvent cements such as ACRIFIX® 1S0107, typically used for acrylic sheet fabrication, work well when cementing to the untreated surface. This permits the use of other acrylic products, including acrylic profiles, in conjunction with ACRYLITE® Reflections. Cementing to the treated surface of the sheet will result in weak or inconsistent bonds which can be broken with light pressure and damage to the protective paint. Learn more here.

Mounting

Reflections mirror can be mounted to most rigid, clean, dry surfaces using adhesive or mechanical methods. Select the proper thickness of the sheet to avoid unwanted distortion of the mounted mirror. With most adhesives, bare wood should be sealed in order to promote good bonding of the mirror to the substrate. Contact manufacturers for limitations and recommendations.

These silicone sealants have been tested and found to work well if properly used:

795 Builders Sealant
Dow Corning Corporation
Corporate Center
PO Box 994
Midland MI 48686-0994
989-496-7881
www.dowcorning.com
Silpruf-SCS1000 or SCS2000
GE Silicones
9930 Kincey Avenue
Huntersville, NC 28078
877-943-7325

Mechanical fasteners may also 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 mirror. 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 ACRYLITE® Reflections. However, they will leave very slight chipping (about 1/64” in size) in the gray mirror backing. For most applications this will not be visible. The same depth of cut and feed settings as used with ACRYLITE® premium sheet are recommended. Learn more here.

Drilling

Reflections can be drilled with the same equipment that is used with premium 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 on this sheet. 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. Learn more here.

Thermoforming

Thermoforming to moderate draw ratios is possible. However, as the draw ratio increases, the mirror finish becomes correspondingly thinner. This results in its appearance becoming duller or less brilliant. It is recommended that a few test samples be made first to evaluate the appearance of the part.

When thermoforming, the sheet can be heated on either side. The protective masking should be removed before heating the sheet. The gray surface will become soft and tacky when the sheet is heated. Therefore if a mold is used, it should be designed to contact the acrylic surface and not the gray surface of the sheet. For a raised decorative part, this means a female mold should be employed. The gray painted surface can be easily damaged when hot. Learn more here.

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 ACRYLITE® Reflections as used with other acrylic sheet.

For more information on fabrication methods, check out our ACRYLITE® fabrication manuals.