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Making Top Signs from Laser-printed Acetate

Started by Scarfwearer, Sep 28, 2010, 01:01 pm

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Sep 28, 2010, 01:01 pm Last Edit: Jul 16, 2020, 08:48 pm by Scarfwearer
It's common for people to take a design to a sign-maker, and have four copies made using vinyl and a backing of acrylic. But there are other ways - here's one:

If you have access to a laser printer, you can print up some transparencies on multiple pieces of A4 or letter-sized acetate.


I think I spent £25 in Staples in the UK for the acetate and spray adhesive, and probably $20-30 in the US for the sheet of perspex/acrylic, which was enough for all four signs. I cut the clear acrylic to size slowly using a table saw, though it's also possible to cut it by scoring with a sharp knife and snapping carefully.

A single layer of transparency is not opaque enough to completely hide the light, and it's also difficult to join them accurately enough to avoid the seams showing:


The solution is to print the signs twice more, but further across the page so the joins happen at a different places. This way the joins no longer show, as each join has two layers of black behind or in front of it from the other layers. I took the PDF of the sign and used the banner-making feature of MS Publisher to lay it across several sheets of paper, using cut-marks to help with the alignment. If you don't have a tool of that kind, you could print it using a word processor and just have it spill over the side of the page. You might want to print a ruler below it to help with the alignment afterwards.


The three layers can be stuck together and down with a spray adhesive designed for photo mounting (avoid products containing acetone, as this may dissolve the acetate sheets). Sellotape (scotch tape) will actually show if backlit.


This article is an edited extract from my build diary.