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Plexiglass for deck material


#1

Hi all, first post really excited to get building.

Does anyone have any experience with or thoughts on using plexiglass for there deck?

Im keen to explore this option with intergrated leds on a transparent deck.


#2

Definitely possible…

Not sure if there are benefits over wood though… it certainly will looks sweet though.


#3

I saw a board a few years ago, it had a tube steel frame and a plexiglass top with led lights. If you wanted it to be strong without extra support you would need it to be really thick. May end up being heavy. But I’m guessing it’s definitely possible.


#4

Thanks for sharing, my thoughts were intergarting the circuitry within the deck for visual effect also. My concerns are weight and difficulty of shapping.

However if I proceed down this route its all about the looks.


#5


#6

look up “jelly skateboards”.
I think one of there boards is what Torqueboards posted, but I saw them on kickstarter a while back, and they had a couple different deck shapes.


#7

i suppose you could slump it over a mold and reinforce the strength using geometry and layering, but you’d need a sizable oven. I wonder how thick it would really need to be. Lexan is pretty strong, i’ve worked with it before while slumping shapes for an arcade cabinet i’ve been working on for years. Too much heat and you get bubbles, but they might look kind of cool.


#8

Thanks lhb, im envisiging a longer than normal old school deck with lots of concave, however im now thinking enough room to incorprate a tablet into the deck for control system (ui) using the emotive headset.

My build is going to start getting expensive. :slight_smile:


#9

Has anybody got any advice on shaping plexiglass, I would imagine heat and moulds, and how easy would it be to route channels in to it and sealing it afterwards? Need to get tooled up as its my first go I would prefer not to make any schoolboy errors.

Would it be easy to polish scratches out for a slick production look?


#10

An ambitious first build Trev - good luck!

“clear” is relative. There are several plastic polishes for plastic that work pretty well. You can check out the Novus ones i think i have some. Working with paint/clearcoats i know that you get finer and finer grit until it’s “smooth” and “clear” - not sure if the 6-8k grits would still be cloudy on lexan, but know that it’s possible with enough effort. Just like a paint job though - what looks good from 3-4 ft away may not and 3-4"!

GL and look forward to seeing your build!


#11

Thanks for the tips mate, planning 20mm throuth the tips and 40 mm through the centre to allow for space cell to be intergrated into the deck along with vesc, also to allow battery to be removed, not sure if its possible yet but will have a go, possibly make a connector and holder for tablet to display revs, speed distance and remaining capacity along with GPS maps for an added treat, im thinking my personal tesla electric veichle style. I want all the mod cons with a streamlined semi transparent “looks like im floating” smooth cruiser.


#12

Yep thats the idea, what a sweet deck. Do you think it was home made diy or a cnc job


#13

Hi Trev
Yes you can thermoform acrylic ( Plexiglass is a brand name). Polycarbonate (Lexan is a brand name) is also thermoformable. Notice that the edges of the board you pictured has light edges and the picture that torqueboards sent has dark edges. Your board is acrylic the other is Polycarb. Polycarb is softer and bends more but is much more “unbreakable”. Acrylic can crack and may have sharp edges after it breaks, but if it is thick enough, there will probably be no problem. There are also special drill bits for plastics. These bits will drill without causing cracks in the plastic. Regular bits are sure to cause cracks especially when they break through. These bits are very pointy and are available at plastic supply shops.

They both are formable at around 225°F but the correct temperature must be found by trial and error. The heat source and the thickness all are variables. So some test pieces are needed, but they don’t need to be actual shape and size. The bubbles that longhairedboy mentioned are caused by moisture in the plastic. To remove the moisture the plastic must be heated slowly a at lower temperatures for a duration. After that it can be formed without bubbles. The specifics of this info is available by searching on the net.

As for routing, heat generation is the biggest problem. If the bit spins too fast it will simply melt the plastic along the cut. Very Ugly. There are correct “speeds and feeds” information for milling different plastics.

Scratches polish out but they first need to be sanded out. I like to start at 1500 grit then goto 3000 grit both wet sanded. If the 1500 does not do much, then starting at 800 might be better, then 1500 and 3000 then use car polish to make shiny shiny. Note these grits listed are not P800 and P1500 and such. P papers are much coarser than non P papers. I learned the hard way! So be careful. -There is also flame polishing (acrylic) and vapor polishing (polycarb).

You have an ambitious project. DO – IT - ANYWAY!! Get started and try things!! Feel free to PM me if you need to.


#14

I think Plexiglass would be a bad idea. I think you would need to use polycarbonate or lexan.


#15

Marvelous replys guys, yeap Lexan it is, i have been researching and the names seam to be interchanged freuquently, whilst being very different.

Ordering the running gear and battery soon, will need some gearing advice after ive mocked up the board,

Cheers fellas


#16

I wonder if the individual layers would just laminate themselves at the correct temperature. I doubt that you’ll be able to find Lexan at the exact thickness you want at a hardware store, so you’ll likely have to work with multiple layers.


#17

#18

Scored for some 20mm thick Lexan today, 400mmx1300mm. It is heavy however should trim a fair bit of with shaping. Its solid with minimal flex.

Now i need to make plan to cut and shape. Is it easy to cut with a jigsaw? Should i cut first before moulding?

Getting pumped to start


#19

Thanks for your detailed advice, apreciate it. Im sure ive just got Lexan it was free so very happy. Now i need to find an oven big enough, have no idea where to look. Maybe a local college our workshop.

Is it easy to cut? Will a jigsaw work for the outline?

Cheers

Trev


#20

Hey Trev - i’ve done a fair bit of plexi and plastic cutting when modding pc’s. Nothing quite like your project though.

I wouldn’t recommend a jigsaw unless that’s all you have. You can get some nicer blades which will work, but it’s not going to be as good of an edge most likely. Get a really fine tooth (or no teeth with perma-grit blade!) at the very least.
here’s a 3 pack bosch blades on HD (not as fine of tooth as i expected)

I would recommend an oscillating tool (again with a carbide or similar blade), or the ever trusty dremel w/ plastic cutting discs.
Here’s a good short video of an oldtimer showing us how to do it with oscillating tool. Obviously not quite the same with thin straight cuts, but hopefully it helps.

No matter what - cut outside your line and give some extra room to start - you can sand in to the line later and cut closer once you have it mastered - but it’s a BITCH to add material after you cut it away! :wink:

As for an oven - some folks forming large bubble wind screens for recumbent bikes did a great writeup so others could make their own. As for building an oven large enough to heat your big peice - look at what they did. Slow but with some crafting of the “oven” (an insulated box w/ heater elements) you should be able to do it as well.

Here’s the site and details for their windscreen. Some good nuggets.

GL!