Painting Engraved Acrylic can be a Mess!
These are the tips that have saved me countless do-overs and given me the best results.
1. Mask Your Acrylic!
This is where the genius begins! Make sure your acrylic is masked before you start your engraving. Masking your acrylic will protect your edges and allow you to flood your engraved area with paint.
Most acrylic I have bought is already masked, but sometimes it comes with a clear film on it and this will not be suitable. Remove the thin film and cover with masking paper instead.
Make sure there are no bubbles in the masking. My favorites tools to ensure a flush masking is my Cricut Scraper or a credit card if I can't find the scraper. 😉
2. Laser Settings.
Your settings will of course depend on your laser and your acrylic. There are two types of acrylic: cast and extruded. Generally cast acrylic is considered better for engraving since it will leave a nice frosty white finish.
For the Glowforge use the correct settings according to your proofgrade material. If you are using another acrylic consider doing an autofocus on your material to make sure to clean a clean engraving.
On other lasers: It is always best to make a test strip to get your laser's perfect setting. I use a Mira 9, and found my settings to be a little different from settings I saw shared by others. Always remember to AUTO FOCUS before starting your project. (I need this tattooed on my hand. 😂) It can make a huge difference to your engraving. The crisper the edge, the cleaner your painting will be.
3. Clean Your Engraving.
This step is missed by so many people. You really want to get rid of the acrylic crud in your engraving. That stuff will dirty your painting and make it look bitsy. Use a soft brush and clean gently. You don't want to ruin your masking edges so brush ever so gently, blow softly and you can even use a compressed air can!
4. Spray an Initial Sealant Layer to Protect Your Edges.
This is the secret sauce to keeping your edges crisp! I use Krylon spray sealant. I find it leaves a smooth finish over your project which is what you want. Make sure it dries properly, especially if you are using Glowforge Proofgrade materials, I find it gets very wet and you don't want to paint on wet sealant, it will look uneven.
5. Paint with Acrylic Pens or Spray Paint.
For a smoother finish, I find acrylic paint pens and spray paint work the best. This is when you want to whip out your POSCA pens. They seem to flood the engraving well and leave a consistent finish. If you have any overflow over the edges, you can clean the edges with a q-tip and isoprol alcohol. But don't use the alcohol on the top of your project without testing whether it will "stain" your acrylic. I find it can really cloud certain matte pastel colors.
For the most consistent finish use spray paint. This is easier to do in bigger projects. Just be careful not to spray paint the edges of your project because it will be hard to clean. Consider masking the edges to protect them from paint.
And you're done! Well, almost.
Make sure you are happy with your painting result before you remove the masking. Do any touch ups BEFORE you remove the masking. I repeat, do everything you need to do BEFORE you remove the masking. Including the steps below. DO NOT REMOVE your masking. 😂😂
For longer lasting results, protect your project!
Add an additional layer of sealant or better still, seal with UV Resin. But make sure your masking is still on (have I said this enough times? I speak from experience. 😂) so you can remove any excess resin cleanly.
And now all that's left is for you to share your project! Share to our Facebook group here!