For years I've been looking for a low cost, reliable source for 1/2" thick acrylic (plastic/plexiglass/Plexiglas(R)) sheets in various colors and sizes. The only things I can find are clear/non-reflective, black/smoke, and sometimes white. I'm looking for a whole rainbow of colors (at least 6-10 distinct colors) for my Etsy store.

I've looked at TAP Plastics, eStreetPlastics.com, ePlastics.com, InterstatePlastics.com, and lots of other places, but the thickest I can find is 1/4" in the sizes I can use. Some places only sell colored 1/2" acrylic in 48" x 96" sheets, which costs several hundreds of dollars. I need pieces as small as 6" x 12", up to maybe 24" square, shipped to me.

I'm not looking for polycarbonate, vinyl, PVC, etc., since I'll be laser cutting these into checkers and backgammon pieces, with an etch on one side.

I've tried stacking multiple pieces of thinner materials on top of each other with varying success. Unfortunately, the quality I've gotten with stacking hasn't been reliable or good enough for some of my more discerning customers.

I've had better success stacking dis-similar colors than I have with the same colors, specifically because you can still (faintly) see a seam in the like colors. I can make an Othello/reversi chip that looks amazing, just not a solid color.

I have access to a 90 watt CO2 laser cutter, which should do a decent job on the edge without having to do more edge surfacing. I used a 100 watt laser to get excellent edges on this thick of material.

I've also tried dying the acrylic, with no success and no consistency. What little I've been able to do was time consuming, messy, and not at all what my customer or I wanted.

These sheets also need to be paper backed or have some sort of protecting film still attached, to prevent scratches. I will be shipping the end result to my customers. I have found that peeling the protection away before laser cutting works best on this thick of material, but I need it for scratch prevention before my use.

Does anyone know where I can find what I'm looking for? I'm willing to buy/take cut-offs/scraps from another company that uses this thick of acrylic in their manufacturing process, as long as the scraps are in decent condition.

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide! Also, let me know if this is off topic and where I can move this question to, if there's a better SO site.

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    You mentioned masking to protect the acrylic. Don't use any product with plastic film masking, as it will generate dangerous chlorine gas when hit with the laser! – fred_dot_u Dec 4 at 1:14
  • I found only one source on eBay, but the color selection expanded only to blue from the clear, white and black you've noted. Perhaps that source could provide special order pieces? The username is acrylicfabus from Clearwater, FL, found with a search of "1/2" acrylic" – fred_dot_u Dec 4 at 1:20
  • @fred_dot_u, good call on the plastic film. I don't usually use it anyway, and it tends to melt to the project when using a laser, so it doesn't produce good results anyway when leaving it on. I'll see if I can find that acrylicfabus seller on eBay. Thank you for the assistance! – computercarguy Dec 4 at 17:27

Unless your customers require personalization of the game pieces, you might want to consider going to a mixed medium approach to your production. Prototype your products with the laser cutter using an opaque laser safe high-density foam or any other laser safe media which comes in your desired thickness. Then once your prototypes possess the desired shape/size, make a silicon mold of them and then cast them in clear resin. That will free you from your height limitations and seriously cut down on your material costs, while still producing a transparent product of acrylic hardness.

By adding a vacuum chamber to your resin casting process, you can eliminate the embedded air bubbles which often diminish the appeal of cast products. When fully degassed, clear resins can produce crystal clear transparency, totally free of embedded imperfections.

The best part is that you can mix powdered dies into your liquid resin, allowing for a full rainbow colors and shades.

  • Thank you for the suggestion. I've looked into casting with resins, and that has some limitations which are preventing my from doing that, too. The biggest is that I do offer customization of the etching on the checker. The second is the time and effort that goes into the molding and casting process. I have a lot of experience with a laser cutter, so, to me, finding already created sheets is a lot less work than mixing, pouring, casting, and finishing for each set. – computercarguy Dec 4 at 17:33
  • I'm not against casting, since I know it can produce some amazing results. I've even considered casting my own sheets, but I honestly don't know how that works, or if it'll work in a laser cutter. I just need to find some time to do some research and testing of mold making and casting before I offer this to my customers. – computercarguy Dec 4 at 17:35
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    Sorry my suggestion wasn't more help. As for casting your own sheets, research it extensively before attempting. The resin that most people use is epoxy based and burning epoxy gives off cyanide gas. I do a lot of laser cutting myself but after a few early mistakes, I now read the material specification page for every media before I burn it for the first time. Avoided more than a few catastrophes along the way. – Henry Taylor Dec 4 at 18:25
  • Unless I know from other people that a material is fine, I tend to read the MSDS to find out what chemicals it gives off during incineration/burning, so I understand that concern, too. Too many people don't do the research, or simply ignore the research they found. – computercarguy Dec 4 at 19:04

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