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Making Top Signs from Laser-printed Acetate

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

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Scarfwearer

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.

acetate-equip.jpg

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:

topsign-one-layer.jpg

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.

acetates.jpg

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.

topsign-three-layers.jpg


This article is an edited extract from my build diary.