Need some acrylic plastic cut for a science project!

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jebus197
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Need some acrylic plastic cut for a science project!

Post by jebus197 »

Hi I am a mature science student studying in Newcastle in the UK. In any case I have a bit of a problem, in that I need someone with a band saw to cut some acrylic shapes for me. These shapes are mainly hexagons and triangles.

I searched the internet high and low looking for acrylic that was thin enough and stiff enough to meet my purposes. However I kept running over the same problem which is that most coloured perspex sheets that are for sale appear to come in a minimum thickness of 2 mm, which is just too thick for what I am trying to do. Anyway After a lot of thought, I struck on the idea of making my shapes from coloured plastic CD Jewel cases like the ones here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005 ... 00_s00_i00

They have one completely smooth surface and are pretty much the ideal thickness and stiffness for my project.

However I live in a tiny flat in Newcastle and don't have access to a bandsaw that can cut this kind of plastic, hence why I have ended up here.

Can anyone help? In essence what these shapes will represent is molecules, like DNA etc. and they will be used as teaching aids to help young disadvantaged kids learn about science.

This is probably one of the more unusual requests you will get on this forum, but hopefully it's interesting enough for someone to want to do it too.

The shapes will all be drawn out, so all anyone needs to do when they get the CD cases is cut them out. Having nice smooth edges would be helpful too if possible as it would be useful to avoid the kids hurting themselves.

So if there's any takers and if anyone wants to do something for science, feel free to let me know!

PS

Please don't worry just because I said it was a science project. The shapes are really simple hexagons and triangles, so nothing very technical at all!
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Re: Need some acrylic plastic cut for a science project!

Post by Someone-Else »

Could you not try using a junior hacksaw? I hate to say it but my cd cases snap very easily. Could you not use plasticine? Roll it out thin, then cut the shapes out.
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Re: Need some acrylic plastic cut for a science project!

Post by big-all »

make a 12- 20mm thick template made from wood
cut each line around the template score with a sharp stanley knife going along the line but extend to the edge
break along the score line
sand as required

other solutions
transparent/ coloured sticky back plastic with perspecs /acrylic as a large uncut backboard
or stick the shapes on and cut with a bandsaw
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Re: Need some acrylic plastic cut for a science project!

Post by wine~o »

Another Non-acrylic suggestion.. Fimo modelling clay. http://fimo.com/FIMO_oven_hardening_mod ... eID=138502

Available in a wide range of colours, can be moulded, rolled, shaped and cut just like plasticine, but once baked in a low oven hardens to a plastic like substance....

Available from hobby craft type stores...
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Re: Need some acrylic plastic cut for a science project!

Post by merlin50 »

If you read the question he is not asking how to do it, he is asking for someone to do it for him.
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Re: Need some acrylic plastic cut for a science project!

Post by Someone-Else »

merlin50 wrote:If you read the question he is not asking how to do it, he is asking for someone to do it for him.
I for one did read the question, but I would say a cd case is of little / no use. So I suggested an alternative.
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Re: Need some acrylic plastic cut for a science project!

Post by jebus197 »

Yes thank you for all the kind and helpful posts. However I am a student looking for a cheap solution, hence the choice of CD cases. The other reason is that the plastic is exactly the right thickness and of exactly the right stiffness for what I need. Transparent flexible plastic won't cut it, as nor will paper as these don't have the kind of durability I need when working with kids. It needs to be reusable, maybe hundreds of times. Modelling clay is something I have thought about and is something I do use for other purposes, but is unsuitable in this case, as it's impossible to make it thin enough and stiff enough to be useful. Also there's a reason why I would prefer transparent shapes, as you can often infer things that are going on behind the shapes that can't be inferred from solid shapes.

I am no expert at cutting plastics, but surely although CD cases can be brittle, there must be a way to make it work? I was rather hoping I could rely on the expertise of some of the guys here to help out, so I don't just end up with a bunch of trashed CD cases.
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Re: Need some acrylic plastic cut for a science project!

Post by big-all »

now you have given a bit more information we can understand what you actually need :thumbright:

i assume you want to place on a desk or board like counters is what your after :dunno:

have you though about cloth and possibly velcro if you need chains :dunno:
what sort off size are we talking 50mm/2" accross :dunno:
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Re: Need some acrylic plastic cut for a science project!

Post by jebus197 »

I'm trying to avoid getting too technical and risking intimidating people who might be prepared to help.

The sizes and shapes are pretty much irrelevant, as these will be pre-drawn on the CD covers in indelible ink. The CD cases will be supplied to whomever is prepared to help and hopefully they can use their experience and expertise (and hopefully appropriate equipment if they have it) to cut the necessary shapes out.

Again no one needs to really be very concerned with this, but for those who are genuinely interested, what I am attempting to do is to design a 2D organic chemistry modelling kit that can be easily transported in an average sized pencil tin. I would simply find this a very useful teaching aid.

To be even more exact what I am attempting to do is create a structural organic chemistry modelling kit based on the conventions that can be found here: http://www.chemguide.co.uk/basicorg/con ... /draw.html under the section titled, "How to draw structural formulae in 3-dimensions"

Roughly speaking under this convention solid lines indicate molecules (or atoms) pointing towards the viewer (either directly or at an angle), while dashed lines indicate molecules/atoms pointing away from the viewer. Straight lines are pretty much just in the plane of the viewer (so viewed horizontally.) Don't worry what the squiggly line means (since this is a little more complicated), as all of these different lines will simply be drawn on the plastic strips in indelible ink after they have been cut. The hexagons and pentagons I need cut all represent sugars, which are fundamental constituents of all life. (For example ribose in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a sugar)

You can see a actual representation of the type of thing I hope to be able to recreate in plastic here:

Image

This is an image of ribose.

All of the weird letters (H, OH, C, O etc) are chemical elements, or chemical groups. You don't need to worry about these at all. These will be recreated using small square ceramic mosaic tiles like those here:

Image

These tiles can be written on using a fine indelible marker pen, and the ink can easily be washed off with some simple diluted acetate. (Nail polish remover). So the tiles can easily be reused.

The whole thing can be arranged on a table, or any suitably flat surface, so no need for "Velcro", or any means of sticking them down. Not yet anyway, at least in this current incarnation of this concept.

But basically I'm afraid this is all information overload, as essentially all I need is someone who can cut out some pre-drawn Hexagons, pentagons and triangular shapes in plastic from the CD cases I listed above. (Or at least someone who can give it a good go.) As a broke student I can't afford to offer financial inducements, but you will get the satisfaction of knowing you are helping to create something fairly novel, you are contributing to science and to a greater public understanding of this, and you will be helping potentially several generations of kids, often from difficult backgrounds to learn about science also. I would of course be only too happy to meet postage costs.

In case anyone is confused by all of this information my question breaks down to simply, if I draw some simple shapes, such as some hexagons, some pentagons and some triangles on to the smooth side of a CD cover, does anyone here feel they have sufficient skill and the right equipment to have a good go at cutting these shapes out for me?
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Re: Need some acrylic plastic cut for a science project!

Post by jebus197 »

In case all of this information is too much for anyone, you can skip to my last paragraph above, as this is basically all this boils down to. ;)
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Re: Need some acrylic plastic cut for a science project!

Post by wine~o »

The problem as I see it, Jebus, is that the cd cases are a "Moulded" product...just for the hell of it, I tried various methods of cutting one (Stanley knife, jigsaw, junior hacksaw..) all with the same result, Cracking or shattering...

As to whether they could be cut with a laser... :dunno:

Which brings us back to finding a product that is suitable for your purpose and can be easily cut...
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Re: Need some acrylic plastic cut for a science project!

Post by big-all »

i googled "large coloured plastic counters"
https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=large ... 0QX1l4CYCw

maybe round ones will cut easily enough

or carboot and look for games with large counters :dunno:
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Re: Need some acrylic plastic cut for a science project!

Post by jebus197 »

Well the CD cover thing is disappointing and a waste of money, at £8 for the lot. Which I can't afford, lol. I was very hopeful I had hit on a solution however.

I looked into the plastic counter thing (thanks a lot BTW!) and I found a company here who says they can cut disks to any shape or size: http://www.plasticdiscs.co.uk/

But again the issue as a broke student is cost. Usually when you want a custom job done, it doesn't come cheap. I emailed the guy to ask, but I'm slightly pessimistic that I will be able to afford it.

However, if you guys can come up with a solution, or see something laying around that could be used, please feel free to let me know. Sometimes the only answer in these circumstances, is to knock some heads together and see if someone else can come up with a solution that you never thought of.
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Re: Need some acrylic plastic cut for a science project!

Post by jebus197 »

I think we are back on the same old crack with this, as the guy who does these disks above has a thickness minimum limit of 3mm, which if you think about what I'm trying to do, is pretty chunky.

The thickness I'm aiming for is something along the lines of a standard plastic ruler, or "tidly wink" pieces.

Each side of my hexagons/pentagons would need to be about 3.5mm wide. (So 6 x 35mm for the hexagons).

I have scoured the web looking for a solution, but short of having these shapes manufactured myself (which would be hugely expensive), I have so far been unsuccessful at finding anything. However perhaps I'm looking for the wrong things, or in the wrong places?

I've tried looking at other materials like ceramics, or glass, but again the problem here is that it's difficult to get ceramics or glass that's thin enough.
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Re: Need some acrylic plastic cut for a science project!

Post by merlin50 »

Image

this is what i cut plastic with
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