Boba Fett Acrylic Engraving Worklog

For a long time I have wanted to pick up a window applique for my case's side window, but I never cared to spend the $10 or risk goofing up the application. I swear I always manage to mess up whenever I try to apply anything sticky no matter how well I prepare myself. The dust and bubbles trapped under my Zune's screen protector is a good example.

So I decided to go a different route. One that involved power tools and Exacto knives because that's always more fun. The advantage is, unlike a window, an etching will glow with your case's lighting.

Dremel tools and accessories
Exacto knife and blades
Printout of the image to trace or use an a stencil

FrozenCPU has a lot of great window appliques to choose from. They have white and UV reactive appliques ranging from the Ghostbusters logo to playing cards to aliens. Normally I would be all over the Ghostbusters logo, but I have that reserved for another case idea I plan to do in the future. For this project I chose Boba Fett's Mandalorian armor logo as seen on his left shoulder:

Certainly, I did not have to choose one of their appliques since I am not using an applique, but I've always wanted to incorporate the symbol into my case. I'm a huge Boba Fett fan (who isn't?) and my Boba Fett bobble head on my desk at work nods his approval every morning.

Lucky for me the preview images on FrozenCPU's site fit perfectly in the corner of the window where I want to do the engraving. That means they're just what I need for the stencil. I cut off the excess paper and taped the image to the bottom of my window.

I used an Exacto knife to etch the acrylic on top (the outside of the case). I think this is the best way to start. I had a few slip-ups where the blade got caught and jumped causing a scratch, but overall it turned out fairly well.

Like many of my projects I'll start it and later read an article about how there's a better way to do it. While reading about a project involving Plexiglas etching and LEDs the author mentioned that he always etches the bottom of the Plexiglas/acrylic because the image will catch more light. Of course, that makes a lot of sense.

Lucky for me I had not started the more irreversible part of the etching, yet. My initial etch
looks pretty nice, so I won't even bother trying to hide it, but rather use it as a guide for the next part.

NOTE: Whenever you etch or cut out an image make sure you have the image correct before proceeding. That means make sure your etching or cut won't turn out backwards when you're done.

Now I get to use my Dremel tool to etch out the image on the interior side of the window. First, I will use a very small bit to etch the lines. Then, I will switch to a bigger Dremel bit to etch the inside of the image to "carve" out some of the Plexiglas. This will give the image a better effect when the computer is turned on. It will appear to be "colored in" rather than just an outline.

I used the smallest etching bit I had and did the outline of the etching. It's very slow work if done correctly. The total etching probably only took me 10 minutes, but I had to keep stopping to use a knife to remove Plexiglas from the Dremel bit. If I left it on there the Plexiglas was melting to the edges of the image making the overall work look less clean. At times the Plexiglas (on the bit) would become hard enough to actually make my etching thicker and less uniform.

For reference, I set my Dremel tool to 4 (14,000 RPMs) for the initial etching.

It turned out pretty well.

You can see how much easier it is to see the etching now compared to the Exacto knife etching. I also went over the entire thing a second time with the Dremel tool when I finished to make sure everything was fleshed out. I used a higher speed of about 6 (21,000 RPMs) for the second pass.

I think I may end up etching the interior of the image to allow for even more light to bounce off of the etching. Right now it doesn't light very well, but that's also my fault. The etching is in front of my expansion bays and not really near any lights. I would have preferred to have it elsewhere, but it fit the best in that corner.

I'm going to add some aluminum tape to brighten everything up and see how it is. For now I'm pretty happy with it.

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