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Polishing Acrylic sheet

The original high luster of acrylic sheet can be restored to the edges and surfaces by polishing with a power driven buffer. It is also possible to polish acrylic sheet by using a soft cloth and a very fine abrasive. But hand buffing is an extremely tedious process. You're likely to get a sore arm long before you get a finely polished surface. Power—driven buffing tools are recommended almost without exception. Because inexpensive buffing wheels are available as an attachment for any electric drill, equipment should not be a problem. Buffing wheels and compounds good for acrylics are sold by your acrylic sheet distributor, but special wheels are not really necessary.

A good buffing wheel for acrylic sheet will consist of layers of 3/16" (4.5 mm) carbonized felt, or layers of unbleached muslin laid together to form a wheel between 1" and 3" (24 and 75 mm) thick. The larger the wheel, the better. But don't use on too large for your equipment. The wheel should reach a surface speed of at least 1200 ft per minute (370 m per minute). Speeds up to 4000 feet per minute (1220 m per minute) are useful for acrylics.  Solidly switched wheels with rows of concentric stitching should be avoided. They are often too hard and may burn the acrylic. Never use a wheel at speeds higher than it rpm rating. Never use a wheel that has been used to polish metal. Traces of the metal may remain to scratch the acrylic sheet.

Acrylic sheet should be polished using a commercial buffing compound of the type used for polishing softer metals such as silver and brass. Or you can use a non-silicone car polish that has no cleaning solvents in it. First, however, tallow should be applied to the wheel as a base for the buffing compound. Just touch the tallow stick to the spinning wheel. Then quickly apply the buffing compound. To polish, move the piece back and forth across the wheel until you get a smooth, even polish. Be careful not to apply too much pressure. And keep the work constantly moving across the wheel. This will help prevent heat buildup which can mar the surface by melting or smearing it. For safety reasons, it is important not to start polishing near the top of the sheet. The wheel may easily catch the top edge, tearing the piece of acrylic sheet out of your hand and throwing it across the room....or at you. Always wear safety glasses and be extremely careful.

Begin polishing approximately one-third of the way down the sheet, and keep moving it back and forth until you've reached the bottom edge. Then turn the sheet around and repeat the process on the other half.

Scratches or other damages to coated surfaces of Abrasion Resistant acrylic sheet cannot be repaired by buffing or other methods of polishing.

Title: Polishing Acrylic sheet
Description: Information on polishing acrylic
Published: 4/9/2009
Last Edited: 4/30/2014
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