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Making Embedments

YouTube link to video showing how to make cast Lucite embedment awards with cell phone showing man removing acrylic embedments from an autoclave and play button to start video.Embedments are made with skill and care!

The acrylic embedding process begins by creating a liquid form of Lucite® resin. We mix a compound of liquid monomer that is crystal clear and looks like water, with a powdered polymer that looks a lot like white baking flour. Mixing ratios very from 70/30 to 30/70 based on the item to be cast. Only experience allows for the correct ratio to create a bubble free clarity that will showcase your item to its full potential. Once mixed, the monomer and polymer take on the appearance of cake batter at which time the compound can be poured into the mold. Made of metal or cardboard, the molds are typically about 25% larger than the final product to allow for cutting, grinding, sanding and final polishing. The molds are filled partially, and the compound is left to sit for a few hours while it becomes firm. Once firm the cast item is placed into the mold and positioned to perfection. Then throughout the day layer after layer is added until the embedment thickness is achieved.

 

Circle, Rectangle, Pyramid, Square and Cube Acrylic Embedments with text Click Here to See Embedments.

 

Looking in the mold now would give you the impression that the final product will not be a beautiful piece of art, because the acrylic is milky white with many bubbles. The final process to complete the chemical reaction that removes bubbles and turns the firm mixture crystal clear involves pressure, nitrogen, temperature and a special oven called an autoclave. The temperature setting in the autoclave is dependent on the item being cast, the pressure is set at 140 psi of nitrogen and the embedments are cooked for 8-10 hours. Magic happens in the autoclave that those of us in the acrylic’s world call polymerization. Polymerization is where the monomer and polymer formulate a chemical crystalline chain of molecules accomplishing three important things; turning the material crystal clear, hardening and shrinking after generating its own heat to approximately 300º Fahrenheit. With so many factors going into the perfect cast, we require a sample pour on large orders prior to mass production.

Finishing is an art in and of itself. After removing from the autoclave, the 20% shrinkage is obvious and allows for the easy removal from the mold. After removal from the mold, the real work begins — plaining, sawing, sanding, diamond honing the bottoms and finally polishing to perfection. From this stage, we are capable of laser engraving or printing the customizations if required.

Acrylic Embedments make exceptional Deal Toys and are an excellent way to preserve important memories.