How to Etch on Acrylic

Etching can be done in a number of ways.
Etching can be done in a number of ways. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Etching is an effective way to customize a piece of acrylic or glass. Some methods of etching include: etching cream, sandblasting and using a rotary tool. A rotary tool, or etcher, requires a steady hand but will help you achieve fine lines, while the other methods allow you to etch a surface fairly quickly once you have a stencil that you are willing to work with. It may take a few tries to achieve optimum results, but you will be rewarded with a custom acrylic surface and the knowledge of etching techniques that can be translated to etch glass as well.

Things You'll Need

  • Plexiglass
  • Vinyl
  • Transfer paper
  • X-acto knife
  • Etching cream
  • Sandblaster
  • Design
  • Tape
  • Pen
  • Etcher or rotary tool

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Etching with a Cream or Abrasive

Place a piece of vinyl over the area that will be etched. Use adhesive-backed vinyl or use an adhesive that will allow you to peel the stencil away once you are finished.

Transfer your design to the vinyl by tracing the pattern over transfer paper.

Follow the lines you transferred onto the vinyl with an X-acto knife and then peel away the pieces from where you are etching.

Apply etching cream over the stencil or use a sandblaster to begin your etching. Leave the etching cream on for as long as the manufacturer recommends.

Remove the stencil and wash the surface with water and a mild soap. If you used etching cream, follow the manufacturers instructions for removal.

Etching with a Rotary Tool or Etcher

Choose a design to etch to the plexiglass.

Tape the design to the back side of the glass. You could also trace the design to the glass with a permanent marker.

Turn on the etcher or rotary tool at a low rpm and trace along the design to etch into the glass.


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