Any Tips On Something Cheaper / Easier To Find Than Colored Acrylic?

I need the HiveMind!

What I’m looking for is something around 1/8" thin, laser cuttable, and preferably in matte colors.

I’ve considered acrylic, but the cost becomes prohibitive on small pieces, and the large pieces are very expensive to ship. I can buy it from a local plastics company for a little over $100 / full sheet, 4 week lead times.

I don’t particularly need it to be plastic, but it needs some water resistance especially on edges and either remain the same color when lasered or a nice contrast, so something like melamine is pretty much out.

Is there anything else out there? Or is cast acrylic sheet really my only hope?


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Cheaper is relative. Pvc can cost little money but also eat your Glowforge! :astonished: you can find inexpensive sources of acrylic, but find that it is extruded. You might call about to a shop that makes big plastic signs etc and ask for a recommendation or even what they do with their scrap.

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Thanks! Yes I know cheaper is relative, and I wouldn’t use PVC for the hydrochloric acid. I’m just trying to consider all options before committing to acrylic.

Most of my acrylic is scrap from the local window/ glass shop in town. works out great, they get money for their trash and i get cheap acrylic.

This - there are signs stores in every mid-sized or larger town and if you’re looking for small pieces they may be thrilled to pass it on to you.

OTOH wood can have “some water resistance” with a spray coat of sealer. I’d suggest doing a test of all possible materials, figure out what you really want to use, and then find a good source at your price point.

That was definitely the most interesting part of @rbtdanforth 's suggestion and definitely something I’m going to try. After all, much of what I’d need it for is 5x8. I would like consistency though, so we’ll see!

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Cheap extruded may work for your project, it’s not horrible, just not suitable for fine detail or the typical projects you see on here.

I recently made a louver vent for my new vent setup, and wish I’d had some cheaper acrylic on-hand - but it wasn’t worth buying for one-time use.

Yes wood is by far the cheapest and easiest to source locally, but would require the most “finishing”. Acrylic is so advantageous because if well desired, it’s basically cut, peel, assemble, touch of glue.

I was wondering what country you live in and when you say you spend 100$ on a full sheet what size is that sheet?

Have you shopped around online? Estreet plastics, for example, has 1/8" 24X48" sheets for ~$25 (there are discounts as you go up in quantity). Shipping to me is $25.

Actually they seem very reasonable!

They have matte black and matte white cast acrylic, which is what I’m looking for. 1/4 sheet is $30.99 which isn’t too bad. Shipping is $30 to me though.

One other thing I noticed is the variation in thickness seems to be higher than I recall the standard. 1/8 => .09" to .125", which is more than 25%.

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I think they are actually 3mm sheets (0.118"), so it’s not really 25% plus or minus.

I suspect this is basically the same acrylic you’re going to find anywhere, but if it doesn’t work for you, there are other places. If you search the forum for acrylic sources, you’ll find lots of options. Some are pricier, but have cheaper shipping, so you need to shop around.