I really like working with cast acrylic, especially clear storage boxes (boxes.py designs for example).
The issue is acrylic is very unforgiving, especially with things like finger joints.
Wood, you can leave the default kerf compensation and just press-fit together, sometimes with a rubber mallet assisting. It always comes together beautifully.
Acrylic is a pain. Sometimes cutting two identical boxes, one press-fits with a lot of effort. The other won’t fit at all or is loose. If you try too hard to press-fit, it cracks at the weak point and you’re starting over.
I don’t like loose-fit and glue / weld, it always leaves marks. The only one that doesn’t is something like a water-liquid weld through a syringe. This is too much effort for as many as I’d like to make.
Any materials that are more forgiving but clear I could laser? Unless I come up with a different but just as stable and easy jointing system.
I don’t have any other material suggestions, but I have been “gluing/welding” my acrylic differently lately.
I have been using UV resin with a toothpick to apply it. It is very easy to clean up if it runs, and it is strong and clear when set with sunlight or UV flashlight.
“Welding” the acrylic with acetone or the like always seemed to cloud the surrounding area or introduce tiny cracks in the clear acrylic. I don’t get anything like that when I use the UV resin. And I don’t have to worry about working quickly with it; it only sets after I apply the UV light to it for a while.
It might have been me. I’ve been doing that for awhile. But I have noticed that some of my uv-welded joints have come apart (like if it gets bumped or jarred) and had to be reglued. I’m thinking the joint may not be as strong as an acetone-based weld. So for long runs sometimes I will tack it together in spots with the uv resin, then after curing I’ll run a very tiny bit of acetone along the joint for added stability. YMMV.
I read recently that resin is not a substitute for glue, so that’s probably why it doesn’t really act like glue, except temporarily. I haven’t used it extensively enough to see things coming apart at some point, but it doesn’t really surprise me to hear you say that.
my experience was not great with uv glue, it looks great and seemed strong but failed unexpectedly. also most no name brands from amazon might have different properties.
nothing works as well as acrylic cement, AKA scigrip 4 or ips weld-on 4.but it is a nasty solvent, and takes a tight tolerance (but not necessarily a clean edge) to work well, and you need to find the right syringe to get a good control on flow. I had made jigs or used tapes to hold the acrylic in place, placed a few drops to tack it (stay away from the tape) then removed the tape and glued it better. when it works it works very well: in fact if making a box I find it works better with straight butt joints and no fingers.
I found a nice site where someone experimented a little: