A friend asked me whether I was interested in a couple of display cases made from some kind of plastic. They were colorful and free, so I said yes. When I learned that they are actually made from fluorescent acrylic – a good choice for things supposed to catch the eye – I was even happier that I did. Now, I turned them into an acrylic wand that looks, as the kids say these days, “lit”. Enjoy, and remember to be Inspired!
What is Fluorescent Acrylic?
This wand is made from a material called fluorescent acrylic. This is not the kind of fluorescent that you might think of initially – it does not soak up the sun and glow in the dark. Instead, this material takes the light that shines on it and refracts it towards its edges, making it look like they are glowing
In the case of these display stands, the idea was to create a line of brightness around the product, and the fact that there is no obvious light source there makes it really intriguing to check out – at least in my opinion.
What happens is that the light that hits the material, be it ambient or directed, will be guided in part towards the edges. It is a simple matter of refraction and transmission properties of the material and thus works on any size of a piece – although larger pieces will work better because they have a much better surface-to-edge ratio.
Frankly, it did not work as well as I had hoped in this project. I assume that the amount of light that makes it through the length of the wand is not enough to make the edges glow as much, but then again, I should have expected as much seeing how small the pieces are.
Still, there is a certain glow to it. And the fact that it does not need batteries or LEDs, but instead works off of ambient light alone, makes it a worthwhile use of the material in my opinion.
Lessons learned from the Acrylic Wand
For obvious reasons, the Hexagon method would be my first choice for a takeaway from the acrylic wand. It allows you to turn flat stock into turning blanks with reduced waste, and it is not that much more work compared to cutting it to squares. Actually, it is faster in total since you do have less material you need to turn away later.
As far as gluing up acrylic, I liked how fast ca-glue works, but this can be a downside, too, if you do not manage to slide the pieces in alignment in time. Once you are familiar with how fast it sets you will probably be fine, but it is something to keep in mind. Also, wear rubber gloves when working with ca-glue so you do not glue your fingers together. And make sure to clean the tip of your bottle just to make sure it does not gum up.
Looking at the finished wand and the way the bottom part broke off, it looks like there are some layers that did not bond well. You can tell by a difference in reflection, and it appears that on some layers, only half the surface has been glued properly.
I have no idea whether some glue from the surface finish seeped into those cracks and sealed them to an extentd, but it appears that the wand is stable. I would not want to drop it, though, and had I seen those defects before – which would have been hard given that they only came up after I was done sanding – I might have tried to break them on purpose to see if I could re-attach them properly
Thanks for stopping by and checking out the acrylic wand. I hope you can take something away from it. Let me know what this inspires you to make, and check out my other magic wands if you are interested in this kind of project.
And as always, remember to be Inspired!