6 things you should know about your Design & Technology materials

08/01/2018

At Technology Supplies, we don’t just want to help you by supplying the best materials to support your teaching, we want to share the best ways of working with it too. Here are some useful things about the materials themselves and project ideas which we think are well worth knowing.

 

 

Drill your acrylic without cracking it

Drilling acrylic can be a frustrating thing to try, often distorting or cracking the acrylic completely. By following a few guidelines you’ll soon be successfully drilling holes in your acrylic.

Specialist reduced rake bits designed for plastics are recommended but standard woodworking twist drills can also be used but it is recommended that the bits are re-ground giving zero rake.

Ensure the workpiece is laid flat on a scrap piece of acrylic or hardwood to prevent splintering and make a small pilot hole, don’t be tempted to use a punch. If you’re drilling a thick piece, lubrication (such as WD40) is a good idea to cool the area and remove chips. A step drill is recommended for drilling larger holes in thinner material.

 

 Plastic drill

 

Step drill

 

 

Get to know sublimation printing

Did you know that sublimation printing can go beyond t-shirts and mugs? It’s a great way of brightening up and personalising some of your favourite materials and best of all, it’s easy!

Acrylic sheet can be successfully sublimated; around 80 seconds in a heat press with medium pressure at 160°C should do it, so why not brighten up that white sheet of acrylic?

Standard High Impact Polystyrene can be problematic for sublimation but you can use specialist vacuum forming sheets for fantastic sublimation forms. This video from Jonathan Boyle at Madeley Academy shows how you can use PVC sheet to great effect and apply it to many different projects.

Promolyte aluminium sheet is a great material allowing you to create all kinds of fantastic items which can be finished off in style with sublimation printing. Give it a go for 2.5 minutes at 160°C for some impressive results.

 Promolyte sheet formed and dye sublimated

 

 

Create your own ‘living hinge’ in sheet material

This is one of our favourite laser cutter techniques and works great with MDF and plywood, thanks to the properties of the material allowing slight flexing before fracturing.

You can create many different flexible ‘hinge’ designs from one piece of material by laser cutting an intricate design creating innovative containers and lamps to name a few. We have one here to help get you started.

 

 

Your acrylic can do more

So you’ve successfully drilled holes into your acrylic and sublimated your design onto it, but that’s not all you can do.

Did you know that you can vacuum form extruded acrylic? It requires pre-drying in an oven at a temperature below the softening point and it is recommended that the material is formed immediately after pre-drying for optimum results. Go on, give it a go.

We all love cutting and engraving acrylic sheet on a laser cutter but ‘laser origami’ has to be one of our favourite techniques. Take a look and see what it inspires you to make.

 

 

Make confectionary with a vacuum former and 3D printer (and chocolate)

There are two common grades of High Impact Polystyrene for vacuum forming, virgin and reprocessed. Virgin grade is generally considered food safe, reprocessed is not.

With this in mind, why not create your own chocolate moulds from virgin grade sheet? If you have access to a 3D printer, you can design and 3D print your mould form and away you go. Just add chocolate.

 

 

 

Think outside the box with Polypropylene

Polypropylene is an incredibly tough plastic with good chemical and water resistance. It is a popular choice for folders and containers due to it being possible to score the material to create a bend that can be folded many times over, plus the large sheets can accommodate a host of NET designs to create complex box designs.

The lightweight nature of this material combined with the availability of translucent colours is what really makes it a winner as it is a great option for lighting projects. You can make some really intricate designs that wouldn’t look out of place in a designer furniture outlet so get making!