Heat forming etched acrylic

I’d like to etch the back side of some clear acrylic, inlay an enamel paint into the etch, then vacuum form the acrylic over a shallow dome. Has anyone heat formed etched or painted acrylic? Any insights as to how it performs? I have done plenty of sheet forming and used blow molds but never tried to do the finish details beforehand.


Logic suggests that the acrylic sheet and the acrylic(?) paint/enamel will behave in the same way, so no problem there.
The etching into the back certainly wont be affected over a ‘shallow’ dome.
Just look at it this way, if your the first to try it, you will be the expert !



Enamel when cured is usually hard and in my experience does not bend well, even when heated. If you can match the fill material glass temperature with the acrylic glass temperature within about 5 degrees you may be OK, but you will have to be very careful and it is likely that your filler will crack instead of bend.

I was thinking of trying acrylic finger nail polish, isn’t that basically acrylic in solvent? I doubt the MSD is going to give me glass transition temperatures so it will just be trial and error. I’m also concerned that the engraved lines will want to bend before the surrounding material giving an inconsistently surface, but I guess I will find out.

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The MSDS I found from Proctor and Gamble does not mention acrylic as a main ingredient of nail polish. I was also not able to find nail polish made from acrylic, though I was able to find nail polish for acrylic nails, which is not made from acrylic from what I found.

Yes, the thinner parts of the material will bend first.

Clearly not my “go to” material :thinking: Thanks for looking it up.
I think I will start cheap and easy and work from there… lets see how metalic spray paint bends.

I have a vacuum forming machine, have you had success with forming acrylic before. Doesn’t it stretch a bit after being heated and pulled? At least that’s what happens to my projects.

Plenty of success forming acrylic, but I have never played with forming laser etched pieces. I imagine the engraving will stretch some. It is a shallow dome so it wont be too bad and I will be using a blow mold with a die instead of stretching over a form. I will find out how it works this weekend and post the pics.

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just wondering how it went.

I did this a while ago.

The first test was too timid on my part. Engrave needed to be deeper, oven needed to be hotter and the pressure needed to be higher. But I think the next one will work great.

I was worried about going too deep but the engrave barely made it thru the tape.

I used a high heat spray paint for the line fill which I think will work good when I have a better engrave.
Here it is in the heat die

Here it is under pressure

Here is it being formed

I knew I had blown it when it was engraving but I ran the piece thru the process to test everything else.

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Hold the phone, dude! I just went over to your website. WTH… that work is amazing, you are one seriously talented individual!

In case you haven’t seen it you should all go there now.

What are you still doing here? GO already!