Archive for March 6th, 2020

Diamond-Drag Styrene Engraving: Sanded Sharpie Colors

Attacking another quadrant of the engraving testpiece with All The Sharpies produced a cheerful mess:

Diamond on styrene B - Sharpie colors
Diamond on styrene B – Sharpie colors

The “300 g” notation is wrong: the innermost scale is on the middle deck, which I engraved with 250 g of downforce, and reads through a window on the top deck. The next scale outward, the inner half of the green block on the left, would be on the upper deck at 300 g, just beyond the innermost scale.

I removed the excess marker with a 320 (-ish) grit abrasive sanding block, producing a remarkable amount of gray dust in the process:

Diamond on styrene B - sanded
Diamond on styrene B – sanded

The general idea was to find out what the colors looked like when confined to narrow engraved slots:

Engraving Testpiece B - Sharpie colors - 2x600 dpi
Engraving Testpiece B – Sharpie colors – 2×600 dpi

It’s enlarged a factor of two from the 600 dpi scanned image by the simple expedient of changing it to 300 dpi, then assuming all the downstream image handling will Do The Right Thing, which could happen.

I sanded it before fully appreciating how even the smallest particle of crud under the styrene sheet ruins the result:

Engraving Testpiece B - debris oversanding
Engraving Testpiece B – debris oversanding

In this section, the scale with green numbers and black ticks was engraved at 300 g and is slightly less abraded than the adjacent scale at 225 g. Guesstimating the depth at 0.13 mm, 0.15 mm at most, the sanding block doesn’t remove much plastic at all … just enough to remove the scales.

The lines are all about 0.1 mm wide and, to the naked eyeball, look about the same as the lines on my K&E Deci-Lon slipstick:, done on a real production line with an actual engraving tool and somebody who knew what he (I’m sure) was doing:

KE Deci-Lon Slide Rule - scale detail
KE Deci-Lon Slide Rule – scale detail

The red CI scale reads right-to-left and, under magnification, you can see where the red ink made its way into the adjacent tick marks. I doubt they were using a pen, but it might be a mechanized roller or dauber.

All in all, sanding works, but it’s messy and poorly controlled.

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