Filling laser etched acrylic: wax vs polymer clay

I made some business card holders for think|haus a few weeks ago. They turned out pretty well, but there was one problem: the etching isn’t really legible from any reasonable distance. I clearly needed to paint/fill the etching with something. I tried two different methods: wax crayon and polymer clay. Photos below the cut.

Laser cut and etched business card holders. Polymer clay was used to fill the etching on the holder on the left, white wax crayon was used on the one on the right.

The polymer clay is on the left, and the crayon is on the right.

polymer clay detail

Here’s a cropped version of the last photo showing detail of the polymer clay. To apply it, I put a small amount of clay on my finger and rubbed it in. It fills really nicely and is easy to clean up. Not sure how well it will stay in though. If you can pull the clay out of the etch by pressing more clay on it.

wax crayon detail
Here’s the detail of the etch filled with crayon. It’s not terribly even, and is a bit harder to clean up afterwards. I tried using a room temperature crayon as well as a crayon I stuck into warm water. The warmth of the wax didn’t seem to make much difference, though I didn’t get the wax very hot. This method doesn’t really work for spots where the etching is wide.

Both methods make a huge difference in the legibility of the etching. It remains to be seen how durable they are. Other suggestions I’ve read include leaving the protective sheet on the acrylic while etching, painting, then removing the protective sheet. Unfortunately, this acrylic came with a paper protective sheet which bursts into flame if you try this. I’ll post updates on durability once they’ve been out in the field for a couple weeks.

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