This is a record of my first experiment in etching aluminium with a sand blaster using a vinal decal as the stencil.
This is a great way to use up those scraps of that hideous colour vinal you may have lying around.
The end result turned out great, but the camera does not do it full justice, also I was using a rather scuffed sheet of aluminium and a few scrapes where to deep to remove.
I'm very chuffed with the end result and I'm sure I will use this technique on future custom projects.
I will be offering the service to my biker friends if they want any custom etching done on the aluminium parts of their bikes.
Equipment used :
25ltr compressor (bigger would be better)
Draper sandblasting kit
Dried and sieved plastering sand.
Thanks for looking.
Step 1: Motorhead - Remember Me Now! Motorhead - Allright!
A few years ago I bought a Craft ROBO vinal plotter, I can highly recommend them or any of their equivalents. Its a desktop vinal plotter that can do so much stuff. I bought it originally to cut paper stencils for airbrushing, but since have used it to cut vinal , t-shirt vinal and even plot templates for numerous engineering jobs using the pen attachment. It can also be used to make paper models etc and I the one PC peripheral that I actually use on a regular basis.
If you don't have a plotter you can make your own decals using a scalpel if you have the patience and a steady hand.
I had this Motorhead logo that I had intended to put on my laptop but it was to big for the remaining space not covered with decals.
I have been a fan of Motorhead since the mid 80's, have worn a Motorhead belt buckle since then (even with suits etc) and even got the nickname of Lemmy at technical collage.
Nowadays I'm not a fan of anything after the Orgasmatron album I still love the classic stuff and this logo.
If you ever see a dark green Mazda 121 (its really a ford fiesta) with a Motorhead logo on the bonnet I have just driven past you.
Step 2: Preping the Aluminium.
I used a piece of shee aluminium from an old kick plate that was on a fire door that was once in a High school, as you can guess the crap was kicked out of it and even the reverse side had a quite a few scrapes on it.
I used a scotch type scouring pad to remove any scratches and give the surface a uniform finish.
Once I was happy with the finish I use transfer tape to apply the vinal decal.
Rub the decal down well and peel the transfer paper back on its self at a 180* angle, this stops the decal from lifting off the surface.
Step 3: Blasting Equipment and Cheap Blasting Grit.
I bought a 25ltr compressor a year or so ago and a sandblaster kit, its not really got the capacity in the tank to be used for large scale rust removal but for small jobs it does the job if you take your time.
I bought a few bottles of synthetic blasting grit but it was so expensive I decided to make my own blasting grit.
I filled an old 1 gallon saucepan with washed plastering sand and heated it up on my wood stove. I kept stirring it with the ash rake until it stopped steaming this took about 30 mins to and hour depending how damp the sand is. Once it is dry i let the sand cool down for a few hours as it really hold the heat. Once cool I passed it through a kitchen sieve to remove any large particles that would clog the blaster and stored it in a sealed container to keep it dry.
Step 4: Blasting.
Once the decal is applied its time to start blasting.
WEAR EYE PROTECTION AND A DUST MASK
A visor and hood is also useful if you don't want to get sand dust and dirt in your hair, beard, ears, nose or places you don't want it.
I blasted the surface from about 2" away, keep blasting in small circular moments until the area to be blasted has a uniform finish. Examine the piece in good light to make sure there are no patchy areas as once the decal is removed there is no going back to make touch ups.
Once i was happy with the finish I rinsed of the piece with water to remove any dust and then carefully removed the vinal decal.
Step 5: The End Result.
The end result is a matte finish with a contrasting shiny finish where the piece was covered by the decal.
The camera don't show the end result to well, also the aluminum sheet i used was less than perfect.
I will try using this etching method on glass and mirrors etc.
Thanks for looking.