Start Here October '22

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48 S T A R T H E R E 2 0 2 2 A crylics are a type of plastic. Acrylic is typically very hard and durable. For our industry, acrylic is either manufac- tured with an extrusion process or is cast by pouring liquid into a cast in the shape of the product. Cast acrylic is very scratch resistant, yet metal tools will scratch it and scratches are diffi- cult to remove. Extruded acrylic can be made thick and cut into shape. Cast acrylic can be cast into sheets. So, don't look at a product and assume how it was made. EXTRUDED VS. CAST ACRYLIC Why does it matter whether acrylic is extruded or cast? Cast acrylic laser engraves white, does not easily melt, and lasers with precise edges allowing for high resolution. It is easy to clean and holds great detail. Clear cast acrylic is very opaque and has great visual qualities. Extruded acrylic can be cut with a laser to make letters or other shapes. Yet, if it is laser engraved, it cannot be easily read, will melt, and is not presentable. It is less expensive to manufacture. Both types of acrylics have their uses. Buying acrylic plastic products from our industry is the safest way to make sure you have the right product for the use you have in mind. Products will typically say they are "laserable" (engravable) or can be "laser cut." CHOOSING THE RIGHT PRODUCT Jumpstart your engraving business with plastic Bob Hagel retired after owning Eagle's Mark Awards & Signs for 18 years in Southern California. While owning the business, he offered a full line of personalized products using laser engraving, sandcarving, and full-color UV direct print on products. Today, he consults on starting and expanding personalized businesses and on improving production efficiency and quality. By Bob Hagel Acrylic Products LASERING AND SELLING I designed a whole firefighter response ID system for a local fire department. The entire system included numerous acrylic products. This name tag demonstrates how shapes of all kinds and sizes can be easily cut from acrylic sheets. (All images courtesy Bob Hagel)

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