Need help understanding the MSDS

Ok Community - I’ve got something I want to etch, but I’m not sure if it’s safe, so I tried reading the MSDS and realized I’m hopeless. Thank goodness I have a community that probably contains some experts who can help.

In essence, I want to try spicing up some etching with a bit of acrylic paint. I know that is commonly lasered, but the first thing I learned is that masking tape will not stick to a surface covered in acrylic paint. It’s got a really smooth feel to it, and even the Gorilla tape just ignores it as a surface. I need masking tape though because I’d like to add a second color, which I would apply to the etching before I weed the tape off.

My solution is to spread a sealant on the acrylic to cover it, and provide a surface tape will adhere to, but I’m not sure if it’s safe to laser the sealant.

TheMSDS for the clearcoat is here, and if anyone could help me to interpret it for Glowforge use I would really appreciate it, and I’m sure others would benefit from the discussion going forward.

I see where there are a lot of fire warnings, but that is what I would expect to see because of the solvent that keeps it liquid. After the sealant is fully cured (I intend to wait at least a couple of days), would it give off harmful fumes if lasered?

Thanks in advance for any recommendations, regarding either the sealant or maybe a better idea to solve the masking problem…

First off without reading the MSDS I can see that Rustolem is not a good choice where non metalics are concerned as the chemicals needed to keep away rust are not needed. I would look for a more generic clear acrylic spray.

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Most of this MSDS concerns itself with the uncured acrylic, what comes out of the can and not what’s left over when it’s dry. The only thing you care about is what happens when you laser off a cured coat of paint. The closest you get is section 10. Specifically, this clause:

  • HAZARDOUS DECOMPOSITION: By open flame, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. When heated to decomposition, it emits acrid smoke and irritating fumes. Contains solvents which may form carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and formaldehyde.

But I’m not really sure burning even applies. Acrylic is vaporized when you laser it, it’s not burned. But vapors of acrylics can be hazardous. I doubt acrylic paint is much different from acrylic sheet.

I’d note that there’s very little you’re going to put in your Glowforge that does not result in the emission of somewhat toxic fumes. Anything that’s a Plastic, anything with adhesive in it. Other stuff too. That’s why you exhaust the cutter out a window or through the GF Filter/Base. You should always assume the discharge from the GF is hazardous. You don’t want to be breathing it even if it’s just smoke from paper…


I’m pretty well ventilated. Perhaps the thing to do is try a small piece and see if it’s bad, but the point about using a different brand with a simpler formulation is something I’m going to look into. Thanks for your responses.

The main problem with an MSDS, or now referred to as SDS, per Global Harmonization System is… The previous statement is to make it sound like I am SUPER SMART about this stuff… I’m not!!! I just worked as a safety officer in a clinical lab for 7 years.
The real problem with referring to the MSDS, in my opinion, is it is referring to the product and it’s associated hazards in an unused state. Most of the chemicals are gone or minimal once the product is used and cured. You need to find out what the clearcoat is when dry (which is not stated anywhere I could find). I’m not a chemist, but I assume the mixture coming in contact with air, moisture, uv or whatever creates a chemical reaction, or the solvents dry and leaves the dissolved solids(whatever that is)… and is probably no worse than acrylic lasering, which stinks really bad. Have a good venting system, a fire extinguisher (know what P.A.S.S. means), have phone in hand to dial 911, and by all means… LASER AWAY!