Acrylic is often chosen because of its glass like transparency that can be polished to a high shine – particularly for items that will be on display and for applications where edges are visible. When acrylic has been cut edges can look cloudy or opaque – with a little know how, they can be transformed to a glossy shine.
If you’re new to polishing acrylic, we’re recommend you try out polishing a sample piece first. Here’s how to do it:
For 2mm, 3mm and 4mm acrylic perspex sheets – use the flame polishing method. This method will melt away any rough surfaces left by the saw and leave your edge shiny so it matches the rest of your acrylic sheet. Note: remember to take proper safety precautions when you are flame polishing.
For acrylic thicker than 5mm – use the sanding and buffing method. Always sand with water to get a smoother finish. Without water your sandpaper could fill up and over heat the acrylic.
How To Flame Polish
- use a hydrogen-oxygen torch
- holding the flame about 5cm from the surface and move the heat across the edge evenly. It’s really important to get an even pace: if you go too quickly the acrylic could melt / set on fire. If you go too slowly you won’t get the nice edge you’re after. However, you can try again. If your first attempt doesn’t give you the polished edge you want, let your acrylic cool and try a second time.
How To Sand and Buff
- you will need 2 types of ‘wet or dry’ sandpaper: one with a grit of 320 – 360, the other with a grit of 180. Grit measures how coarse sandpaper is; the higher the number the finer the sandpaper.
- start off with the 180 coarse sandpaper and wet sand the edges. Rinse your sandpaper as needed to stop it clogging up. As the edges level and smooth move onto the sandpaper with the grit of 320 – 360 to give a more polished finish. You could also finish off with the fine 600 sandpaper.
For highly polished, shiny edges there are products you can use to help. If you are considering using a wax or paste be sure to use one that is suitable for acrylic. We’d recommend Vuplex and Xerapol which are readily available online and at The Plastic People.
Any Questions ?
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or queries about polishing acrylic perspex. The amount of finishing needed to get your smooth, shiny edge depends on the quality of the cut/machined acrylic to start with. If you require acrylic perspex material which is polished ready for use we provide a cut to size polished service using our ‘chip-free saw’ – you can find more information on our site here. You can also see us at work polishing on our range of videos, The Plastic People At Work