Sunday, September 13, 2009

SEABOARD Marine Grade HDPE sheet

This amazing plastic sheet is replacing teak on boats - it's UV resistant, cuts and machines easily, affordable and takes a real beating from the sun, fish you catch, and fellow sailors.

Key Material Benefits:

• Excellent Scratch Resistance • Weather Ability (UV Stabilized) • Easy to Machine with Standard Tooling

Competitive Advantages (vs. other competitors’ similar materials):

• Superior Scratch Resistance • Easier to Clean • Stocked Colors, Sizes and Thicknesses • Still FDA and USDA with UV Additive


• FDA • USDA • RoHS Compliant • Hatches / Covers • Decorative Wood / Metal Replacement

• Great Impact and Stiffness • Will Not Delaminate, Chip, Rot, or Swell • No Moisture Absorption

• Stiffness • Capabilities

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Structured Multiwall Polycarbonate Sheet

Multiwall poly-carbonate sheets are the bomb. This amazing material
combines endless design possibilities with many important advantages:

Standard Sheets 4 - 16 mm (1/4" - 5/8")

Excellent thermal insulation
Highly flexible, yet virtually unbreakable
Lightweight and easy to install
Rigid sheet structure provides extra strength under wind and snow loads. To see sheet performance under loads, go to “Support / Wind Load Charts”.
Standard Sheets feature a UV protective layer to protect against yellowing, and are covered by a 10 Year Warranty against breakage and yellowing (6 mm and higher).

Recommended Uses: Covering of medium span structures where excellent thermal insulation is required.

You can purchase sheets up to 24ft long - even longer, but the freight and crating costs are stiff. Check out this link for Multiwall polycarbonate sheets.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Re-Roofing a Greenhouse with Corrugated Fiberglass Sheets and Panels

Fiberglass Sheet for Roofing - Patio, Greenhouse, Car Port or ?

It is Summertime and there are a lot of homeowners looking into re-roofing the house, putting on or replacing a patio roof, or maybe building a greenhouse, flat or corrugated fiberglass sheet roofing materials might be the answer to what you are looking for to meet your needs.

Fiberglass sheet roofing offers flexibility and is usually bought in sheets or panels made of synthetically produced fine glass fibers. Panels are weather-glazed, providing a waterproof seal and a tough, durable roof structure. Fiberglass sheet is very resistant to corrosion and chemicals, is shatterproof, and will not rust, rot, or mildew. It requires a low level of maintenance, is much cheaper than other types of roof paneling, and can have a life expectancy of about 20+ years. The better grades have 20 year warranties. And fiberglass sheeting is very easy to install due to its light weight. Typical sheet sizes are 26" wide (to allow for a 24" overlap) and 96" or 144" long. If you have enough need, you can get the manufacturer to run a special length for you.

Fiberglass sheets for roofing are available in a clear or white color. With orders of over 8000 sf, any color can be run to match a specification.

Special NAILS and aluminum trim are available for building a greenhouse to seal the top and sides. Even wood strips are available for securing the corrugated sheets to the cross beams and end-walls.

Corrugated fiberglass roofing can be purchased in a heavy duty form that withstands high winds, heavy snow, and extreme outdoor temperatures. With interlocking between sheets, this type provides good water run-off.

Industrial and Metal Buildings use a special wide 1/16" thick panel for their skylights called an "R-Panel" that are 37" x 144" or larger. These come in a translucent white - and a great alternative for homeowners and condo associations looking for a really high strength carport or patio roof replacement! A good amount of light will come in without the heat gain of a clear or thinner white sheet.

The designs and possibilities of use for fiberglass sheeting for roofing are improving constantly. Another very interesting application is the use of the flat fiberglass sheet for solar panel covers such as for hot water solar tanks and systems. Thanks to for the pictures.

Friday, July 17, 2009

How Safe are Plastic Water Bottles?

Here's a hot topic. Plastic Water Bottles. Are they SAFE? Or do they pose a danger to our health?

The chemical in question is bisphenol A - known as BPA - found in polycarbonate containers.

Here is a article contributed by Britney Wilkins who write for :

This has become an interesting debate in modern society, as people become more and more worried about any contaminants that may be polluting their everyday lives. This has therefore resulted in the “green” movement in which many people have opted for products that do not contain any added preservatives, flocking towards more “natural” products on all ends of the spectrum. While there is no real way to get around the plasticity of water bottles aside from simply using a stainless steel container, you can take certain precautionary measures to ensure that you are not imbibing the harmful pollutants.

Water bottles are generally safe unless you plan to use and reuse them time and again. After so many rewashes, the ingredients that make up plastic, such as polyethylene terephthalate and antimony begin to leak out due to the degrading interior. Many moms and parents are trying to teach the importance of conservation to their children and have tried to reuse these plastic containers before realizing that this could cause more harm than good. Most plastic containers are stamped with a number on the bottom to indicate how to recycle or dispose of the plastic, with most water and juice bottles labeled as No. 1, indicating their easy ability to degrade upon multiple washes. In comparison, the harder Nalgene bottles have the number 7 stamped on the bottom, although scientists maintain that this form of plastic can leak out bisphenol A, an endocrine-disrupting chemical. While this is still in debate since the amounts found were well below the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards, other scientists maintain that this type of chemical could cause behavioral and neurological problems in developing fetuses and young children.

This poses many worries about the proper way to drink water: can we no longer use typical plastic water bottles? These findings are not meant to scare us off from our regular water bottle usage, but simply to remind us not to continuously wash and reuse the same water bottles. Once we start to overanalyze every form of plastic and the type of containers we use on a daily basis, we realize that there are contaminants in nearly everything, which makes it almost not worth it to worry about. While many of these findings have brought on increased amounts of worry within parents, the bottom line is to remember to only reuse plastic bottles a handful of times before you throw them out. If you want a container that has staying power, resort to the stainless steel bottles, although plastic still remains the best alternative and is much easier to tote around. (She welcomes your feedback at

OK - interesting take on the BPA worries.

Here's some information just in from "Plastic News" July 20th 2009 issue:

The 6 major manufacturers of baby bottles have agreed NOT to make bottles containing BPA. Health Canada said it would draft regulations banning the import and sale of baby bottles containing BPA. Health Canada issued three separate reports 7/9/09 affirming the safety of bottled water, powdered infant formula and baby foods in glass jars with metal lids - all of which contain BPA.

Health Canada added that BPA levels in bottled water is negligible for the general population and that an adult would have to drink 264 gallons of water every day to approach the safe intake limit for BPA recently established in Canada.

Closer to home, in California, on 7/15/09 the California Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee voted 7-0 not to include BPA on the state list of toxic chemcials regulated by Prop 65.

Well - it is safe to say that the wheels are turning in North America - BPA is on the way out and the levels are very very low in current production containers. There is no level of BPA acceptable for infants - that seems clear.

What about the bottles you ARE drinking from right now? They are safe.

What about re-using a water bottle over and over? They are safe - but the reality is that I would worry more about what is in the refilled WATER than leaching out of the plastic container. After a few re-uses there is bound to be some amount of bacterial contamination in the water that is far more bothersome than a fractional amount of BPA. That bacteria comes from the air, your mouth, the food you eat and the air getting in the bottle when it's sitting around waiting for a refill.

So... I am only refilling my bottles ONCE - and toss the old ones in the recycle bin for cash.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Plexiglass at Home Depot or Lowes

I love Home Depot. I love Lowes. I go there when I need hardware, lumber or a new BBQ. But I don't go there when I need a sheet of Plexiglass acrylic sheet. It's not because I have a plastic company, but because I know the difference between what is being offered for sale there vs a plastic distributor's shop.

For MOST consumers, you are looking for the best value for your money. Something that will last and do the job correctly. Sometimes we just need an inexpensive sheet of clear plastic right now. When the second reason is the case, by all means, go to the big box store (Lowes or Home Depot). The rest of the time, visit your friendly plastic distributor, explain your application, and they will set you up with the correct material - Plexiglas, Acrylite, Optix, Lucite are typical brand names. It's printed on the paper masking. It's on a label under the film masking. No label? Ask for proof it's domestically made (North America).

The material you find at Home Depot and Lowes is an inexpensive "extruded" sheet of acrylic with a typical film masking. Usually it is made here in the USA. But what I don't like about the big sheets is that they are too thin. But - they sell some small sheets too! If you're looking for some small 8x10 or 24x24 sheets of THIN clear Plexiglass - then they are a great source. Most plastic supply companies do NOT want to sell just an 8x10. But at Home Depot you can. Even self checkout!

Should you want to cut the Plexiglass - they usually sell a small Plexiglass scribing tool that allows you to put a groove across the sheet, and then snap it in half right along the groove!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Enclose your patio room with recyclable clear plastic PETG

Check this out: Enclose your patio room with recyclable clear plastic PETG.

This material in an 0.040" thickness is about 50-60% less expensive than 1/16" plexiglass. Maybe $28-33 a sheet. It rolls for shipping. It's clear, and doesn't break. It is not UV stabilized, so I would put in on the INSIDE of the patio room. It will also make a good second pane for insulation glazing/storm window applications.

You can screw right through without drilling. It's the same material as pop bottles. You could even use it for child-proofing on railings. Oh - that's another blog entry.

You can find this material online PETG sheet at

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Embedments in Plexiglass Acrylic

Embedments in Solid Plexiglas Acrylic

Lucite® is a high quality acrylic product. The versatility of Lucite® allows it to be custom designed into a variety of shapes and sizes, incorporating many different types of embedded elements. However, due to chemical reactions during the process, not everything can be embedded. Here's the top of a champagne bottle (removed with a sword) cast into Plexiglass by a factory.

The process starts with two basic ingredients, an acrylic resin powder and monomer, a crystal clear liquid. The powder and monomer are mixed together in specific proportions. The result is a thick, opaque liquid. The mixture is hand poured into molds and allowed to partially harden. Objects to be embedded are then hand placed into the Lucite® layer. Another layer is poured over the embedded object and the Lucite® is again allowed to harden. Heat and pressure are applied to the parts to remove any air bubbles and completely harden the part. Parts are then sanded to size then buffed by hand to a bright crystal-like finish.

Sounds simple? You need an AUTOCLAVE to actually cast the Lucite or Plexiglass materials. Unfortunately, these chemicals are not available in a DIY shop or to the general public. Then again, not many of us have autoclaves in the kitchen. No, a toaster oven duct-taped shut won't work.

So - a lot of us turn to polyester resins - clear casting resins that emulate this process of clear casting of plastics - and embedding in plastic.

I have successfully cast certain bugs that decided to enter my office or my garage - but I probably "cooked" even more by putting too much catalyst in the resin mix. The problem with casting "organic" items in resin is that they contain water and when they warm up as the plastic is turning to a solid - they expand.

Putting catalyst into polyester casting resin activates the molecules to form a solid. A pretty neat trick. But to do that, the temperature must be raised. Trust me, this can get out of control and you can start a fire with too much catalyst. But when you put something organic - like paper, flowers, crickets and the like, the water in them will go gaseous and muck up your casting.

Pennies, rings, teeth are more stable and you have more successes. The shapes you see in these pictures are cast ACRYLIC shapes that are standard - and that can be used for embedding items into by a factory - not DIY stuff (sorry).

Remember, always try this FIRST on something similar. Write down the ambient temperature, and the amounts of resin and catalysts. When casting in layers, let the layer beneath cool before adding another layer...until you are skilled and learn to adjust the catalyst downwards for the next layer.

Casting resins are not UV stable so make sure you don't put your cool new casting in the sunlight.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Calculate Aquarium Thickness - How THICK must the Plexiglas be?

To determine the proper thickness for an aquarium made of ACRYLITE® GP acrylic sheet...
OK - this is for all you Einsteins out there - even if it's high school physics and math... please don't ask me the calculate this.. :-) - check out the Cyro Tech-Knowlogy site for a spreadsheet to help. You have to login in - but it is a killer info site.
The aqaurium in the picture is 12ft long, 4ft high and about 3ft wide in the middle. It was constructed of 2" thick acrylic sheet, the outer walls were thermoformed into convex sheets, and please note the "top cap" made of 1" thick plexiglas sheet, then routed out for access holes. This top cap also creates a structural member that keeps the outer walls from bulging under pressure. This aquarium is now doing service in upstate Michigan.
CYRO recommends that all acrylic water vessels, including aquariums, should be constructed with cell cast ACRYLITE GP sheet. This requirement exists for two reasons:
  1. ACRYLITE GP sheet is more capable of withstanding continuous loads than continuously manufactured or extruded sheet.
  2. ACRYLITE GP sheet maintains a high level of mechanical strength after water absorption has reached equilibrium.
Cemented joints must withstand the effects of the continuous hydraulic pressure and the high level of water absorption for many years. Two-part polymerizable cements are recommended for this to meet this requirement. See Weld-On #40 information in the blog. Solvent cements are NOT recommended.
To determine what thickness acrylic sheet should be used, the calculation below can be used assuming the base is uniformly supported.

T - thickness of sheet
H - height of tank
L - length of tank
Required Thickness T (in)=           
q = maximum water pressure (lbs/in.2) = (0.0361 lbs water/in3)* H (inches)
H = aquarium height (inches)
α = maximum permissible stress for ACRYLITE GP in an aquarium (750 psi)
β = coefficient from L/H relationship as follows:
L/H 0.25 0.50 0.75 1.00 1.50 2.00 3.00 4.00
β 0.037 0.120 0.212 0.321 0.523 0.677 0.866 0.940
Note: For L/H ratios not shown, use the β value for the next higher ratio.
L = 36 in.
H = 15 in.
L/H = 2.4 therefore: b = 0.866 (taken from the chart for L/H = 3.0)
q = (0.0361 lbs/in3) x (15 in) = 0.542 lbs/in2

T (in) =

= 0.375 inches

If a top is cemented on (this would have 2 cutouts to prevent bowing), the recommended thickness in 0.375 inches. With an open top use a safety factor of 1.5, bringing the recommended thickness to 0.563 inches to be used in this size tank. Since a thickness of 0.563 is not made, simply increase this to 0.740" (3/4") which is stock.
OK - did I blow your mind? WWPGD? If you want to build an aquarium, and the edges are hidden by framework, or the mounting in a wall, etc. then use 1/2" CAST ACRYLIC SHEET for aquariums that are 15" high x 20" wide x 36" long. Make sure there is a top cap to keep sides from bulging. 24" x 24" x 48" - use 3/4" sheet and 30"x30"x48" use 1" sheet. Always use a top cap sheet to hold side together!
If you are not skilled with gluing Plexiglas, search out a local plexiglass fabricator in your area. Typically under the Yellow Page heading of Plastics - Fabricators. If the edges are showing, make sure the fabricator defines how bubble-free their bonds will be and the quality of the edge polishing. Expect to place a 50% deposit on the order and the balance when complete to your satisfaction. To save money, identify what edges do NOT need to be polished - that saves time and your money!

Thanks to

Download the XLS from Evonik - Calculate Aquarium Thickness  

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fiberglass FRP Pultrusion process and shapes

Fiberglass Reinforced Plastics (FRP) can be manufactured several ways. Let's explore the pultrusion process of making fiberglass sheet, shapes, and profiles. The pultrusion process allows production of continuous lengths of fiber-reinforced polymer profiled pultruded shapes, angles, rod, beams, and tubes.

Check out the picture above.

First, from the left, fiberglass in the form of continuous roving filaments, or fiber bundles, is drawn though the liquid resin, which saturates the glass reinforcement. Next, this combination of resin and glass is then pulled through a special die using a continuous pulling device (hence the name pultrusion for pulling through, rather than extrusion which is pushed through).

The die is made of metal, with a highly polished interior to allow the rather corrosive fiberglass and resin mixture to pass through easily. The mass of materials conforms to the shape of the die and is heat-set into a permanent, structurally reinforced shape. Fully cured when exiting the end of the heated metal die.

The resulting high-strength profile is cut to length -- ready for use when it leaves the pultrusion machine.

Pultruded products provide manufacturers and designers with the benefits of high strength-to-weight ratios, corrosion resistance, heat resistance, dielectric properties, dimensional stability and weatherability. In the end, pultruded products are a cost effective and versatile alternative to traditional materials.

Here is 48" wide sheet being pultruded...

The fiberglass material is typically produced in 3 grades:

1. Standard with isopthalic polyester resin and various layers of fiberglass roving and mat.
2. Fire Retardant and UV resistant chemicals added to the Standard Grade
3. Vinyl Ester Resin, FR and UV additives - for extreme chemical resistance.

Standard colors are Green, Gray, and Beige respectively. Any color can be run if the quantity is high enough.

A short list of pultruded products in the marketplace: Tool handles, ladder sides, skateboard decks, fiberglass stairs and platform systems, fiberglass grating, fiberglass decking, u-channel, I-Beams, structural profiles of all sorts. Photos: (courtesy of Liberty Pultrusions)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

SHOJI Chrysalis Resin Panel fabrication

Plastic Fabrication using Chrysalis HD resin panels is pretty cool. I can't do this with 3-Form or Lumicor panels. That is really SHOJI (shogi) paper inside the sheet. Duraglas, the maker of Chrysalis HD, uses a patented process to manufacture these panels. The base sheet is PETG (same stuff as soda bottles) and is thermoformable. The surface is unique in that it is "self healing" - small scratches (yes, scratches) can be removed with a small heat gun such as a cooking torch or industrial hot air gun. A few short passes will heal the surface.

Chrysalis and Ridout Plastics will be at the NEOCON show June 15-17, 2009 to show off all of the patterns available and some interesting fabrications at BOOTH 8-3130C. For you technical types, the material has a CLASS 1 FIRE RATING, is GREENGUARD & LEEDS COMPLIANT, is BACTERIOSTATIC and GRAFFITI RESISTANT. You can use as a DRY ERASE board OFF THE SHELF - no special coatings and Chrysalis HD resin panels are 40x MORE IMPACT RESISTANT THAN GLASS. That said, it is more expensive than Plexiglass or Lexan - but then again, there is nothing like it!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Glastron Boat Windshield Fabrication

Glastron boats, as well as many other OLDER outboard motor boats, have thermoformed plexiglass acrylic windshields. After a few years, usually 30-40 years, owners want to spiff up their motor craft and put a new windshield in. Problem is, Glastron doesn't make them anymore.

Here's Bryan with a recent windshield sent in to the shop for a replacement. We don't have a mold either, so I thought I would share a few pix from the process....

The boat windshield starts out as a FLAT sheet. A rectangle that fits the outline of the finished windshield if you could lay it out flat. Now, when the plexiglas is heated up to forming temperature, about 350F, the material will SHRINK about 2%. But according to the laws of expansion and contraction, the material will also EXPAND when heated. So a fabricator has to be a bit of an artist to attempt this particular job.

But wait - there is no mold. Or is there? Our man Bryan has decided to use the OLD windshield as a mold. It's not a perfect mold - if you lay the heated plexiglass OVER the old windshield, the new one will be slightly bigger. Using the inside as a mold will result in a windshield that is smaller. We decided to use the outside as a mold and then use a heat gun to wrap the sides after the windshield has cooled - a secondary operation.

The end result? A perfect match - new for old - and the new windshield is masked to protect it on its journey back to its owner.

SBA Family Business Award

This is something that everyone at Ridout Plastics ( is proud of. The United States Small Business Administration decided to create a special award for Family Owned businesses across the country in 1995. In each major metropolitan region, they hand selected a short list of contenders. You could not apply to be considered. You had to be nominated by a qualified local organization and these organizations could only nominate one company. The San Diego Chamber of Commerce chose Ridout Plastics as their nominee and we underwent a grueling series of tests and reference checks.

After about 6 months of interviews and checks, their were 5 contenders vying to be the first recipient of this prestigious award in San Diego. We won this based on our years of contributions to the local community, a successful transition from one generation to the next, and our excellence in customer service. Basically, for being good guys. There is an article in Entrepreneur Magazine from back then.

It might have been 14 years ago, but we remind ourselves every day why we earned this recognition and strive to exceed customer expectations each and every day.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Plexiglass Glass Cup Display

This is something fun made from Plexiglass sheet. We had a customer come to us with this giant wooden toothbrush and ask us to make a matching glass for an advertising display.

There is this whole world called the "ad specialty" industry that put people's logos on... well, anything.

What makes plastic so fun (keep in mind that the word PLASTIC means: Capable of being shaped or formed: plastic material such as clay. See Synonyms at malleable.) is that with a little heat, imagination, time, and the proper forms - you can make anything.

It's certainly tricky to take go from a flat sheet to a compound curve, bond the joint, and then mate the bottom. But then, that's the magic in plastic fabrication

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Plastic Glue and Adhesive

I thought I would blog a little about plastic glue (plastic adhesives) to help sort out the mystery of using adhesives and plastics. There's really some basic element to cover first. That's whether the plastic material you want to glue or bond CAN be solvent glued.

So let's take a test and see if the plastic can be glued. There a large group of plastics that CANNOT be solvent glued. They included polyethylene, polypropylene, teflon, acetal (Delrin), and Nylon (and some other exotic plastics).
A quick test is to take a solvent like acetone (nail polish remover) or MEK (hazardous stuff) and put a little dab on the material. If it gets tacky, you can glue it. If it does nothing, you need to use mechanical fastening or adhesive tape. There is a special treatment for Teflon to allow epoxy glues to adhere (called "etched teflon").

Water jugs, plastic gas tanks, plastic water tanks (RV's) are mostly HDPE (high density polyethylene) and can only be hot air welded. They are generally white in color. They are "waxy" and slick on the surface. Your 1 gallon milk container is HDPE. The bottome of your snowboard or ski is UHMW and cannot be solvent glued. Soda bottles are made of PETG which is difficult to solvent bond.

PVC (normally gray in color) CAN be solvent glued. PVC is used in sprinkler pipes (along with ABS). And PVC comes in CLEAR - think vinyl windows, think synthetic leather and upholstery.

Here's a list of adhesives by material type to explain further about the plastics that CAN be solvent glued... keep in mind that a "water thin" solvent adhesive needs the pieces to fit together perfectly and has a short working time - whereas a "bodied" adhesive allows some gaps to be filled and has a longer working time. ALL ADHESIVES REQUIRE 24 HOURS TO CURE AND ARE STRONGER IN 48 HOURS. Some adhesives have a 20-30 minute setting time and seem strong enough to move. They are not. I always tell people to wait overnight before testing the bond. The first 24 hours usually cures to about 85% of ultimate bond strength. The next 24 hours goes to about 90% with a couple more days to full strength. Just thought you might want to know.

Repairing a Crack in Plexiglass? Click on this link - I wrote about that elsewhere in this blog. (Repairing Plexiglass acrylic sheet and Lexan Polycarbonate sheet are similar issues)

Plastic Adhesive and Glue Cross-Reference Guide (thanks to IPS for this chart)

Plexiglass Glue - Plexiglas is an acrylic based sheet - the actual solvent for Plexiglass is Acetone, but is not a good glue as it evaporates too quickly. The proper glues are either based on a Methylene Chloride solvent formula (WeldOn 3, 4, and 16) or have PMMA monomer in the mix (WeldOn 40). I have seen people mix in other chemicals such as Acetic Acid to "enhance" it. My recommendation is learn to use what's in the can as adding other chemicals that are pretty nasty, and potentially cancerous, isn't the wise course of action. When building a display case you would use Weld-On #4 - that gives you the clear bonded edges. When building a large aquarium of 3/4" thick plexiglas you would use Weld On #40. #40 requires experience as it is a 2-part adhesive and 30 minute working time. It is almost as strong as the sheet itself.

ABS Plastic Glue - ABS is a styrene based plastic - very widely used in automotive and electronics industries. Could have a textured finish or not. Test with acetone to see if it gets tacky. ABS is a high impact material but can still crack and break. There are water thin solvents and milky bodied adhesives. Since ABS is always a solid color, it's easy to work with.

PVC Vinyl Glue
- PVC could be a medium gray color or clear. It can be rigid or flexible. It could even be a foam sheet (hard or soft). Confused? Hmmm. The gray is easy. The clear is easy. But foam? Yes - sign makers use a foamed PVC sheet (called Sintra, Celtec, Komatex, etc) that is widely available and comes in white, black and a rainbow of colors. Backpackers use a soft PVC foam sheet to sleep on. Sign Banners are typically PVC based material. Convertible windows, air matresses, inflatable pool toys are mostly flexible PVC based. There are water thin and bodied glues. As in other materials, the water thin are great for matching parts. For everything else, a bodied adhesive is required.

Multipurpose Glue - I call this group of adhesives the "sticky" ones - they tend to STICK the plastics together rather than chemically solvent weld. A contact adhesive like IPS 1829 will stick 2 flat faces of materials together rather well. A "structural" adhesive like IPS WeldOn #10 is a 2 part mix - and the adhesive itself becomes structure. It's white so it's usually used behind the material where it's hidden. WeldOn #40 is also a structural adhesive and is CLEAR. It seamlessly bonds Plexiglass and is great for bonding different plastics together. #40 requires some patience learning how to mix and apply. As always, try a test part before going forward with the real deal.

Lexan Polycarbonate Glue - Polycarbonate is a bit more sensitive to solvent adhesives, so a fast drying glue like Weld On #3 is a great choice. There is a new specialty adhesive, IPS #55, that requires a special application gun. For industrial users, this baby delivers a high strength liquid that is superior to all the other glues available.

Styrene Glue - styrenes are very sensitive to solvent adhesives. Most of the styrene product that is being solvent glued is a solid color (not clear) and either is a quick shot for tight fitting parts, or you need the bodied adhesive for filling gaps (or extra working time).

Polyethylene Adhesives & Glue - The fact is that the group of olefins (polyethylene based plastics), which include LDPE, HDPE, and UHMW, are so chemical resistant that modern science has not invented a solvent glue to bond these plastics. Of course, such properties are why these plastics exist and perform their job so well. You might even note that the solvent applicators and most chemical containers are made from polyethylenes.

All is not lost - You do have some choices!

1. Mechanical fasteners - screws, nuts and bolts and the like - you may have to recess the hole or deeper countersink based on the application.

2. Pressure Sensitive Adhesive applied to 1 surface. For the thinner sheets of UHMW - called "Slick Strips" - you can peel and stick a variety of thicknesses and widths from .010" to .125" thick,

3. Contact Adhesives - IPS Weld On adhesive #1829 - it STICKS but the bond is limited as it would be with ALL solvent based contact adhesives. There are a wide variety of solvent based contact adhesives available nationwide.

4. Double Sided Tape - OK, I know you didn't want to hear this, but for some of you, laying down a few strips may do the job. There are 2 kinds of tape. Double Sided Foam Tape is a permanent adhesive good for non-smooth surfaces. "Killer Red Tape" is a thin 0.015" thick acrylic adhesive transfer tape perfect for SMOOTH surface applications. Thicker tape is available such as the line of 3M VHB tape.

5. Hot Air Welding - the way LDPE and HDPE tanks and trays are built is by hot air welding the pieces together. Similar to metal welding, but at lower temperatures, a welding rod is melted into the sheet joint to make a strong bond. The materials must be the same - you cannot effectively join dis-similar materials.

Whew. Ok - I will probably have to keep expanding this post - it's a BIG subject area.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Another Day in Plastics Fabrication at the Shop

I was walking around the shop today and saw some incredibly different tasks going on. I guess it's what makes it fun every day for me, as well as for our team. Don't forget to click on the pictures to see larger versions!

Starting at the Shipping Department, it looks like a lot of display frames are ready to ship to a regional bank. Still needs some pallet wrap and protection.

Waiting for pickup from a local museum in San Diego, I found a stack of 24" x 24" x 24" acrylic vitrines - these are made from Optix brand acrylic sheet from Plaskolite.

Over in the CNC area they are cutting out some interesting shapes for a new customer. These parts will be "line-bent" into a new shape - a lot like oragami - that will have 3-D structure. Can't tell what it is. Heck - I don't know what it is anyway. (Have to check the work order tomorrow.....)

Over in the plexiglass thermo-forming department, Jason is working on a prototype for a couple of pedestals and windows. The soft felt-like material allows him to handle the plexiglass while it is still hot (275F) without transferring any mark-off to the sheet surface.

So this base is 3" thick clear CAST Plexiglass sheet about 18" x 24". It will become a base for some art object - each object has a different shape at the base and will require tailoring of the recessed holes to make them fit. We haven't polished out the holes completely as this is a work in progress.

Check out this photo. You are looking THROUGH the center of the plexi. That's a nickel on the other side, and the bottom of this base acts like a mirror - you are seeing a reflection of the machine and ceiling!

That's crazy.

Hope you enjoyed these pix.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Architectural Resin Panels

I am sure you have noticed that in many restaurants, bars, and offices there has appeared a new kind of plastic decorative sheeting - filled with patterns and organic materials as well as solid colors. Some of these materials are made with PETG (pop bottle material) both pre and post-consumer based material (virgin and recycled resins). Some others are made from acrylics (Plexiglas). The variety and the applications seem to be endless.

We have been working with theses manufacturers for several years and do a lot of cutting, machining, and forming of these panels to help the interior designers and architects visions become reality.

At the "W" Hotel here in San Diego, we had a chance to create 1" thick panels of 3-Form Chroma material 48"x96" and then engineer the mounting holes and specialized slots for the surfboard fins that are mounted on the panels. The material was given an "aged" look - which we all thought was funny because Plexiglas does NOT yellow - but it looks cool on the wall as you can see in the picture.

Some clients use the materials as Donor Recognition boards - and we CNC cut out the boards to fit the particular look and feel of the installation.

Something new on the market are Architectural Resin Panels from Chrysalis HD - made here in California (hooray) and bringing a new set of patterns and standards to the market. The team behind this product are very creative and driven with backgrounds in design and architecture. The price is substantially less than other similar materials on the market (hooray hooray) which makes it very attractive considering the economic times. Lower price - better product is always welcome.

One of the things we like about the Chrysalis HD line is the formability of the product as most of the interior materials will allow forming (unlike many of the organic materials found in the other manufacturer's sheets). Lead time on getting this material is quick. Distributors should have stock but if they don't, sheets can be manufactured quickly. At my company we offer a "cut sheet" program to allow for designers to achieve their dreams without having to buy the whole sheet.

These are just a few of the 50+ patterns available. Cool!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Plastic Ice - Plexiglass acrylic Ice sheet

Plastic Ice. Fake Ice. Faux Ice. Artificial Ice. It is funny how there are so many things that we make that are fake. Really! I mean in Japan you walk down the street and every lunch restaurant has a set of fake portions set out to tempt you in. Even the mannequins in the department stores are looking more realistic.

Seems like everyone wants fake ice. The bigger the better. We have all kinds of fake ice in our store, but the largest block is about 9"x9". Not big enough for some people.

Today one of our suppliers came in with a sheet of fake ice. Really good fake ice. Check it out - it's crystal clear and we can cut shapes from it, or build it into pedestals or big blocks or cubes.

This sheet comes in any thickness - but I want to have sheets of 1/2" and 1" thick for some amazing possibilities.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Surfboard Donor Board in Plexiglass

The California Surf Museum was recently renovated - completely. It's located in Oceanside, just a short paddle up the coast from our facility. Being a life-long surfer, I whothey called on me to help out with the donor recognition boards. I was honored.

So I met with the architect who supplied small pieces of glass tile that were part of the color theme. We matched these tiles to a PMS color chart we use in creating custom colored plexiglass sheet. This chart is rather magical as it allows for solid, transparent, translucent, and frosted sheets. Wow.

We decided to go with a blue tint with a frosted surface on 1 side. Oh - did I say how BIG they wanted these to be? 8ft tall. It required 3/4" thick material to make the boards stiff enough. Check this picture out. The public rarely sees the gasket used in manufacturing the sheets - but asked for it to be left on to maximize the available material that was cast for the project.

Next, we had to create a surfboard shape that was a blend of the old 60's longboard and an all-around "fun board" shape. I stopped shaping surfboards in 1975, but I have been designing skateboards my whole life (and continue to produce and sell a line of, yes, fiberglass plastic skateboards and clear skateboards too). So I was honored to create these donor boards.

Here's the machines cutting out the shapes.

As soon as I get a great photo of the boards installed at the museum, I will add that.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Plexiglass Acrylic Chuppah Mandap Mundap Gazebo on the Beach

OK - we have made some interesting things to go in interesting places. When one of our event planner customers based in San Jose del Cabo asked us to build an acrylic Mundap (or Mandap) or acrylic CHUPPA for Jewish wedding ceremonies.... we said "How Big do you want it?"

They said "Oh - maybe 8 ft high and 10ft wide" and "we want the top struts to be open, so we can put fresh flowers in" and a few other requests.

And a few more requests.... make sure YOU click on these pictures for a full size view of these clear Plexiglass gazebos. (I use the term gazebo loosely of course)

We said "You realize that not only do we have to build this, but we have to ship this 1200 miles to you - without breaking - and you have to be able to assemble and disassemble this many times!" And with our "When Others Can't - We Can" attitude, we figured out the "how" and put this together. It breaks down into 8 pcs and has adjustable sliders for assembly on uneven ground.

Nice. A bit of Jewish tradition : The wedding ceremony takes place under the chuppah (canopy), a symbol of the home that the new couple will build together. It is open on all sides, just as Abraham and Sarah had their tent open all sides to welcome people in unconditional hospitality. I think that's pretty cool.

Update June 2009: here's a link to the company that makes these Acrylic Plexiglass Chuppa Mandaps.