Introduction: Sand Blast Patterns on Plexiglas - Wind Deflector for Convertible Car

Picture of Sand Blast Patterns on Plexiglas - Wind Deflector for Convertible Car

This instructable is on how to make really cool looking matte patterns on plexiglas for multiple purposes. My example is a wind deflector for a Chrysler Crossfire Roadster. It reduces back draft and looks nice. I've thown in LED ligting too to illustrate what you can do. I certainly don't claim to have invented the concept but since I was unable to find any good DIY guides in one place I decided to share the whole process that I came up with. 

I hope you enjoy and please leave comments. I'd love to hear about what you do with the guide.

This is what you need:

1. A good idea
2. Plexiglass / acrylic glass. Some parts of the guide may apply to Lexane but I wouldn't know.
3. Access to pressurised air
4. Sand blasting gun
5. Basic household tools (pen, knife, scissors, etc.)

Step 1: Make a Template

Picture of Make a Template

Cut the template to the desired shape. If is supposed to fit somewhere, make sure you do all the fitting and adjustments already on the template. It is much harder to make changes to the plexiglas.

Step 2: Get the Material

Aquire the plexiglass / acrylic glass at your local home improvement store or glass dealer. I recomment not buying to thin. Thin plexi is pretty prittle and thus hard to shape without braking. I used 5 millimeter material. It is usually a good idea to buy a bigger piece than you need. The extra material can be used to experiment on and get comfortable with the process.

Please note that plexiglass comes with protective plastic film. Keep it on as long as possible! Acrylic glass is very scrach sensitive. Be aware that even with the film on it is easy to scratch. Handle gently!

Step 3: Transfer Template to Plexiglass

Picture of Transfer Template to Plexiglass

Trace the template onto the Plexiglass sheet with an overhead pen or similar.

Step 4: Cut the Shape

Picture of Cut the Shape

Put the piece on a thick piece of styrofoam for support and eaven pressure. This is important since the material is brittle and will chip or crack easily. Use a regular jigsaw with a relatively fine tooted blade but not too fine toothed as it will generate too much heat. Start cutting. Press down firmly so the saw never bounces. The difficult part is to not rush the cutting. If you do, the blade will get too hot and the plastic will start melting. If you are impatient like me you can cool the blade with pressurised air. That worked like a charm for me and had the added benefit of blowing all the sawdust away thus reducing the risk of any of it getting caught under the saw and creating a not wanted groove in the plastic (has happend).

Step 5: Smooth the Edges

Picture of Smooth the Edges

Don't take the protecive film off just yet! Use sandpaper to polish the edges to desired result. If the edge came out rough start with rough paper and gradually go for finer grain. Remember not to rub too long on one spot. The plastic will start to melt.

Step 6: Apply Blasting Template

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You can do this in one of two ways:

1. Be lazy - have someone make the template. I did. It is actually a reversed sticker. They kept the stuff that is usually waste and removed the stuff that is usually the sticker. I had it made at a car parts store. Assuming you have a sticker - remove the protective film from the plexiglass on one side. Apply the sticker carefully. Press firmly around the edges. Try to avoid air bubbles. They will break when sand blasting. To protect the material from any unwanted blasting, mask as much as possible around the pattern. Two layers of regular masking tape works fine.

or

2. Trace/transfer the pattern onto the protective film and cut it out using a surgical knife. It is not that hard if you have a steady hand and take care not to put the knife where it is not supposed to be or you will have a scratch. It is possible to remove or reduce scratches but is not easy. Anyway, that is a different tutorial which has been described many times.

Step 7: Sand Blast!

Picture of Sand Blast!

You are finally at the fun part. Blast away! Try to blast evenly. Do a little at a time and check the template often so it is still holding up. To check if the whole pattern is eavenly matte, use a light from the back side. Keep blasting until you are happy with the result or the template can't take anymore. Stop while the edges are still nice and defined for best results.

Step 8: Remove Protective Film

Picture of Remove Protective Film

Pretty obvious what to do here. Get rid of all masking and protective film. Careful! Rememer - it scratches easily. Rinse in water to get rid of any residual sand or plastic shavings. Use a little soap if you want but stay away from strong detergents. Dry off with a clean soft towel.

Step 9: Done!

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Mount it. The project is done! Use led strips on any of the edges if you want to illuminate the pattern.

Comments

ddamico361 (author)2015-04-11

This portable sandblasting gun with container is available at Tractor Supply for $19.99 or on Amazon.

JamesRosas (author)2015-03-04

Dear Dude.. This bad ass. That is all...

DB28704 (author)2014-10-08

What blast media did you use? I recently got a cheapo blaster and some 80 grit glass bead blast media, and it didn't seem to do much of anything. I blamed my crappy little compressor.....

jec0435 (author)2013-08-08

What blast can is that? You don't have a cabinet I see?

ehsmaes (author)jec04352013-08-09

I put a link in another comment. Nope, no cabinet. I blasted on my lawn. It survived and so did I. Just make sure to protect eyes and lungs with protective gear.

RandomIdeaMan (author)2013-07-23

Nice work. Looks great on your car.

Have you thought about using red LEDs around the edge and hooking it into the brake light wiring? That's what I'd do!

Pointy (author)RandomIdeaMan2013-08-09

Is that allowed where you live? I would also add some acrylic to the arches behind the seats and hook the indicator to those. If you decide to make it.

Was contemplating this when I made mine. Too bad that it isn't allowed here.

ehsmaes (author)Pointy2013-08-09

I startet out with a design that was all the way from side to side and was mounted just in front of the arches. I cut it out in cardboard and tried driving with it but it didn't really make a difference in back draft so I decided on the smaller between-arches-design. Agreed - plexi inside the arches would probably look nice. About legality of adding brake lights - i've tried to investigate on-line whether it is legal here but I haven't come to a conclusive result. I know there are after market producs available that pretty much do the same thing but maybe that isn't allowed either. Maybe I'll find out the hard way. I've actually wired it up and it looks great. When I hit the brake it goes full red, if not it is in whatever color and dim level I choose with the RGB controller.

0bes (author)2013-08-09

Thanks

0bes (author)2013-08-06

I like it. What model of sand blaster is that?

ehsmaes (author)0bes2013-08-09

It's from a store in Sweden but this one from e-bay is very similar: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Portable-Air-Sand-Blaster-Blast-Gun-Sandblasting-Compressor-Automotive-Tools-HD-/111134839928

ehsmaes (author)0bes2013-08-06

Just a cheapo blaster i picked up at the local hårdare store. I'm in Sweden so unless you are too I don't think the brand is of much use to you.

wthit56 (author)2013-08-09

Sweeeeet

OldElvis (author)2013-08-08

Does the light up pattern block the view in the rear at night? I would think while it looks cool, it hampers rear vision.

ehsmaes (author)OldElvis2013-08-08

Not really. I can dim it down really low or even turn it off using a remote. Stay tuned. I'll probably make a part 2 covering the electric side of this project.

BaiCam (author)2013-08-08

What did you use to attach the deflector to the head rests?

ehsmaes (author)BaiCam2013-08-08

The attachement thingy is not DIY. It came off a retail wind deflector. I'm sure you could make something similar but I never gave it much thought since I didn't need to. I could attach a close-up image if you want. There are plenty of ways to attach these things if you google it.

jayeshshinai (author)2013-08-06

now this my friend...is amazing. i didnt know it was okay to sand blast in open. What was your protective gear?

ehsmaes (author)jayeshshinai2013-08-07

Hi, well, I didn't ask if it was ok :-) Actually I can't imagine why it wouldn't be if the space is large enough. No threat to the environment or anything. It's just sand and air. As for protective gear I used breathing filter, protective goggles and ear caps. It is also good to also use long sleeves and gloves since there is an element of ricochet blasting of yourself.

JmsDwh (author)2013-08-06

Great idea using the compressed air to cool down the cut. I have run into this problem a lot and its very frustrating to ruin an edge with crumbly, melted plastic.

ehsmaes (author)2013-07-24

joelhunn - Well, the "little" blaster is attached to a pretty big compressor. Anyway, the blaster gun alone was about $20.

RandomIdeaMan - Thanks, yep I thought about hooking it up to the brake light. Maybe I will. I'd like to not only have the light on when braking but maybe dimmed blue or White then driving. I Think I'll keep the light down below only. I kind of like it that way but thankt for the idea.

joelhunn (author)2013-07-24

Very nice! How much is one of those "little" sandblasters? I've never seen one. At any rate, your project looks like an expensive, professionally manufactured screen. Thanks for posting!

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Bio: IT-professional by day, DIY hobbyist (among other things) on my free time. I always have one or more projects going on. Usually something to do ... More »
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