Here is a step by step guide to making a custom sign using a Trotec Speedy 300.
For this project you will need:
- 1/8" Clear acrylic
- 1/8" white acrylic
- Spray paint
- Methylene Chloride
- Cord or chain
Step 1: Laying Out the Letters
You want to pick a clean sans sarif font and lay out your letters in individual rectangular tiles.
Layout your letters in the centre of your tiles. Make sure that the space between the edge of your letters and the edge of the tile is the same for all your letters and symbols. Reduce it only for punctuation tiles (apostrophes' etc.) Keep in mind the size of the rails that you will be sliding the letters into. You want to be sure you account for these in the space you leave at the top and bottom of each letter. The layout part is all much easier if you keep all your letters as capitals.
Lastly, you need to flip the orientation of the letters, since we will be etching the letters into the back of the tiles.
Step 2: Prepping Your Letter Tiles
I used 1/8" clear acrylic for this project.
Make sure that you keep the paper backing on the acrylic when you cut the letters out. This way only the letters will be exposed.
Once cut, tape the exposed edges of each tile. This will make ensure they are not painted along with the letters.
Step 3: Painting
Spray paint the tiles in your choice of colours and remove the tape and the paper backing from the front and back.
Step 4: Laying Out the Sign
Use the size of your letter tiles to inform the size of your overall sign (or vice versa if you need a particular sized sign).
I laid mine out to hold 3 rows of letters plus have enough room above for two holes to hang the sign.
Step 5: Designing the Rails
My letters are 1.5" tall and I made my spacers .18”
The rails at the top and bottom are .25” the rails in the middle of the sign are .32"
To make sure that the letters can slide in and out easily, I applied an etch to edges of the rails that cover the letters.
Step 6: Assembling the Sign
I use methylene chloride for the assembly. You can use crazy glue if you prefer, but this yields a much cleaner result in my opinion.
If this is your first time using methylene chloride you need to use a sable or other real hair brush to apply it. Methylene chloride has the consistency of water and wants to run along seams. Running a wet brush along an edge and holding it tight for a minute is enough to give you a tight fix.
Once you are ready to start sticking all the parts together, begin from the bottom up. This will give you another chance to check your spacing as you go.
Step 7: Add the Top Rails
Once the spacers are in you can stick the rails to the spacers. Make sure to keep the edges flush as you go.
Step 8: Add Chain or Cord and Tadaa!
Here is the sign just before i took off the final bits of protective plastic.
Step 9: Alternative Letter Method
You can save yourself some taping and painting, by etching your letters into lasercore.
This two tone material will give you bright clean letters on a white background in one step!
Step 10: Feel Free to Get Fancy
In this example I sued box white instead of solid white acrylic and installed them in a wood box with some LEDS. Put your own spin on it. ;)