Etching Large Cast Acrylic Sheets

I’m making some signs using clear cast acrylic that have a black spray painted backing, but unfortunately, I will not be able to do a reverse engrave on the backs of these because they are way too large to fit into my GF Plus.

I’ve done a little reading online, and it sounds like the regular etching cream that’s used for glass and porcelain most likely will not mark on acrylic at all, but it does sound like acetone might do the trick.

I have a Cricut and thought about making vinyl stencils for the acrylic and then apply the acetone over the vinyl stencils.

Anyone have experience doing anything like this? Do you think the acetone burn through the vinyl stencil and cause a melted mess or seap underneath the stencils? I wondered if I could possibly mix the acetone with something else in order to make a paste or gel out of it so it can be brushed on so it’s not like water that will run everywhere. I have no idea what I could use as a thickening agent that won’t cause some dangerous reaction or lessen the effectiveness of the acetone. :grimacing:

Thanks in advance!


Is white or frosted clear vinyl lettering stuck to the acrylic not an option? You can make that with your Cricut and just stick it on.

I’d be worried about using enough acetone to etch very large sheets, as it can cause the acrylic to form cracks.


I’m concerned about being able to get all of the air bubbles out of the vinyl. It’s for a wedding and I’d hate to have tiny air pockets all over the vinyl lettering. If I could apply it without that worry I wouldn’t mind doing it that way.

I didn’t know about cracking from the acetone.


Laser/cricut a resist film and sandblast the black away?


Professional vinyl graphic installers use application fluid, it lets the decals ‘float’ for a little while so you can place them perfectly - spray on surface, apply the vinyls, squeegee out the fluid and any bubbles with it. The squeegee with the felt wrapped edge is usually better than a plain plastic one for this purpose.

Appliaction fluid is easy to find but you can also use water with a little dish soap mixed in.


Sounds to me like you might need to re-think your material choice…


I thought about that! :grinning: I have a small handheld sandblaster that I bought from Harbor Freight a long time ago, so that is an option. Thanks!


That’s interesting. Can this method be done using the Oracal permanent vinyl with water and dish soap? I might need to see if there are videos for that type of application.


They want a clear shiny acrylic front, so all of the detail will be on the backside of the material.


Got a link to the sandblaster in question?


Absolutely and is done often.


I’m guessing they aren’t selling it there any longer, but this is what it is Search Results for “central pneumatic air erase” – Harbor Freight Coupons

You hook it up to your air compressor.


You wouldn’t have a picture or link of the type of squeegee you’re talking about; would you?


Sure, the most basic ones look like this


Thank you! I haven’t seen squeegees like that before. I think I might be doing some testing with @evansd2 and your suggestions to see which method I prefer.


One came in the tool set I bought to accompany my vinyl cutter. Weeding tools as well.


Mine came with a plastic credit card sized burnisher, but not a squeegee that is felt lined that @ekla posted.

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They’re used for wet work and places where the surface may be delicate or curved where the vinyl itself might get scratched - like vehicle wraps :slight_smile:

There’s another squeegee that’s completely felt - not so great for regular vinyls but excellent for printed graphics

Unfortunately most of those included starter tool sets are the cheapest trash, especially from Cricut. If you do a lot of vinyl work even the inexpensive pro tools will be a joy to use in comparison.


Forgot about those. I bought a set including some other tools for applying window film (which uses a liquid as well…)


Long before I had a GF I was doing sand carving with a variety of sandblasters. At one time there was a wonderful online community of carvers very much like this forum. Amazing work can be done with this art form. I bought most everything needed from Harbor Freight, including an air eraser, which is essentially and airbrush for sand. It allows for freehand and detail work.