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How to remove scratches from acrylic gems? Answered

Hi there. I bought some acrylic aquarium gems that are multicolored and translucent. These gems have some scratches and blemishes on them that aren't an issue at a distance, but I'm planning on making some jewelry with them, and when examined I want them to be clear and pristine as possible. Do you have any ideas on how I can achieve this without damaging the gems?

Thanks in advance!

Discussions

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IrishSnow35

24 days ago

These are some great solutions. I thought of a rock tumbler, but I don't have one and it'd be kinda pricy for me to get one at the moment. Perhaps I could borrow one if I need to, but I'll try some of the simpler solutions first and if those don't work I'll go the mechanical route. Thank you so much!

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Downunder35mIrishSnow35

Reply 24 days ago

You don't have anything that could be closed shut and made to turn around for hours?
Even I have some old plastic buckets with lids ;)

It is plastic you deal with, not actual rocks ;)

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IrishSnow35Downunder35m

Reply 22 days ago

A bucket with a lid isn't hard to obtain...it's the turning it around for hours that I'm not sure I have the time or energy for. Any suggestions on a mechanical way of doing this?

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Downunder35m

24 days ago

Acrylic or resin??
You need to check this before going a route that is not mechanical.
No matter the material a rock tumbler might work best for you.
Since they are not fully dull you would need the finnishing compounds to polish in the tumbler.

Acrylic and flame polishing is well and good if the pieces will never be exposed to too much sunlight or alcohol.
Flame polished acrylic or even heat treated acrylic (to shape or bend it) will crack badly when in contact with alcohol and some other general cleaning chemicals.
But for both acrylic and resin you can try a solvent based polishing to remove really badly scratched bits.
Downside is that the surface becomes very sticky and dull after the treatment.
So really a rock tumbler or similar is the easiest and least messy option.

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Jack A LopezDownunder35m

Reply 23 days ago

What is this plastic you call, "resin"? I am just curious about that, because previously I though the word, "resin", was a synonym for, "plastic", or maybe for, "raw plastic".

e.g. the Wiki article for, "Resin identification code", uses the word, "resin", this way

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resin_identification...

I mean, the way you have asked, "Acrylic or resin???" It seems like maybe to you, "resin" is a specific kind of plastic, that is definitely not acrylic, but maybe is similar in appearance, common, and easily confused with acrylic.

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Jack A Lopez

24 days ago

The first thing I would try, is rubbing it with some mild abrasive that I already have, like baking soda or toothpaste, mixed with small amount of water, either rubbing with a cloth, or just my fingers.

Actually, this is trick often used for removing small scratches from optical discs, like CDs, DVDs, etc, and sometimes it actually works, to make the disc readable again, if the scratches are not too bad.

For more advanced plastic polishing, well, there some authors here who have written 'ibles on this topic. For example,

https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Polish-Res...

https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Flame-Poli...

https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-polish-a-L...

Anyway, looking through these 'ibles, you will get kind of a overview. I am guessing that for really deep scratches or blemishes, you'll need more than just toothpaste; e.g. different grades of sandpaper, and polishing pastes.

I have never tried that, "flame polishing" mojo, described in the second 'ible linked above, but that looks promising, and I think the author said it would work with acrylic, but not polycarbonate.

By the way, the last thing I wanted to mention is acrylic is one of those plastics with too many names, e.g. plexiglass, lucite, perspex, et al. Its true name, or rather its generic name, is PMMA or poly(methyl methacrylate),

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poly(methyl_methacry...