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What is a good material for engraving? Answered

Hi creative people!
I want to engrave a delicate pattern into a flat piece of material.
The material needs to be sturdy and it needs to be acetone resistant.
I tried using plaster of paris, but it's not sturdy enough.

I can either engrave the material by hand, or with a Dremel.
After the piece is engraved, I plan on pressing acetone liquefied ABS plastic with a rolling pin into it. That's why it needs to be unaffected by acetone, and also why it needs to withstand some pressure.
Once the ABS had time to harden I want to pull it out of the engraved "mold".

Thanks for any ideas!

7 Replies

Jack A LopezBest Answer (author)2017-07-01

I think HDPE (high density polyethylene) will stand up to acetone, and so will PP (polypropylene).

Those two plastics kind of come to mind, because, I dunno, maybe because I do a lot of dumpster diving, and those particular are easy to find in the form of discarded plastic buckets, at like zero cost.

Although I suppose it would be preferable, for the thing you're doing, if these materials could be found as perfectly flat sheets.

I have seen HDPE cutting boards, sold in the kitchen goods aisle. Sometimes the small, thin ones are cheap.

Aluminum metal is pretty soft, relatively cheap. Maybe cheaper from a scrapmonger, if that monger happens to have pieces that are smooth and flat.

By the way, I found a chemical compatibility widget, here:


Acetone is in their list of chemicals. Their list of materials is maybe a little eclectic. It has LDPE, but strangely, does not have HDPE. Maybe this can give you some insight into what kinds of materials can withstand acetone, and which ones cannot. Like, for example, every metal (e.g. aluminum, copper, steel...) in their material list seems to get an "A - Excellent" for compatibility with acetone. I think PP got a "A -Excellent" grade, and LDPE got a "B - Good".

Just for fun, I decided to use that widget to look up the compatibility of ABS with acetone, and the answer to that question is,

"D - Poor"

which maybe tells you something you already knew to be a fact, since you are working with something you call, "acetone liquefied ABS plastic"

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iceng (author)2017-07-02

Anything softer then steel and not rubbery see the chart ..

Copper plate has been a long time etching medium but there are soft plastic sheets and ceramics that harden in a kitchen oven.. You want a material that does not splinter easily like a solid plank of sea drift wood or a cow horn...

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Toga_Dan (author)2017-07-02



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steveastrouk (author)2017-07-01

End grain lime wood aka "Basswood" Takes fine detail well, and is easy to carve.

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rickharris (author)2017-07-01

Mmm Pitch comes to mind

Wood, traditional engraving for printing was done in box wood.


Pretty much any softish metal such as aluminium

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rickharris (author)rickharris2017-07-01

I should have included the obvious - Lino - look up lino prints.

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Vyger (author)2017-07-01

Not sure how thick a material you are looking for but several layers of epoxy would work and would be repairable as well.

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