Friday, September 09, 2005

Caring for your Corvette C4 Roof Panel

We get a lot of calls from people asking about how to clean and remove scratches from a Corvette C4 roof. Our company is one of the largest acrylic manufacturers in the country for display products, so it is natural we receive these calls. The call get forwarded to me because I happen to own a 1985 Corvette C4 which I am in the process of restoring.

For a little background, when Chevrolet re-designed the Corvette for introduction in 1984, they designed a lot of great ideas used in other sports cars in the past. Instead of the T-Top roof panels that had been used in the Corvette C3 from 1968-1983, they opted instead for a Targa roof like the Porsche 911. The standard roof was a fiberglass panel painted the same color as the car. Chevrolet also had an optional moon roof which featured a bronze or blue smoked plastic. Originally Lexan was used in the roof in 1984, but was found to be easily scratched. Lexan is a very break resistant material, but the drawback for it's break resistance is it's soft surface which scratches fairly easily. As a side note all race cars used Lexan for their front windshields from the local tracks to the Nascar Nextel Cup Series. In the Nextel Cup and Busch series the race teams use tear off films on top of the Lexan that can be removed during the race which minimizes the scratches to the windshield. Later in the 1984 model year, General Motors switched over to Acrylic with a scratch resistant coating to help prevent scratches in the roof.

Caring for a acrylic roof panel is easy. Wash the panel with mild detergent, standard car wash detergent from Walmart is fine. The key is to spray the roof with a hose well to remove any of the loose dirt. After the roof is dry apply wax to the roof. It is important NOT to use a cleaner wax, repeat do NOT use a cleaner wax as it has abrasives to clean dirt and oxidation ground into the paint on a car and it WILL scratch the plexiglass roof. I suggest applying multiple coats of wax, and applying them often as the wax will burn off in the hot sun.

Removing scratches from the roof is a little more tricky, but if you are careful and cautious it should not be a problem. First you must sand the scratch out with 1200 grit sandpaper. Personally I use wet/dry paper and wet sand the scratch with water that has some dish washing detergent mixed in. The water acts as a lubricant to help keep surface scratches from the sandpaper to a minimum. After this step, dry the area and buff it out. If it is a small scratch, you can hand rub it out. Starting with heavy cut buffing compound buff out the area with a soft rag. Then buff it out with a finish cut buffing compound until all the scratches are out and the shine has come out. The last step is to apply a few coats of paste wax to the roof. If the scratch is large, you will need to use a buffing wheel. Before using a buffing wheel be sure you are experienced with it. If not, I suggest calling a car detailer in your area.

For more information on acrylic, plexiglass or Lexan and their use feel free to see our web sight at

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Acrylic or Plexiglass Fish Tanks.

I get a lot of people asking how to build their own custom fish tanks using acrylic or plexiglass. If you have simple woodworking skills, ie: working with a table saw and a router then the Sky is the limit!

First off you must purchase the acrylic. The easiest company to purchase the material from is a local plastics distributor. This distributor usually stocks both the material, solvent glue and the solvent applicators.

For cutting the material, your best bet is using a 80 tooth or greater finish saw blade. Cut the pieces for the tank of your dreams then clean the edges with a knife or run them through a jointer.

To glue the pieces together you will need to use the bonding solvent (a good brand is Weld-On #3). First practice on some scrap with the applicator you purchased. When gluing the pieces be sure the edges are clean. A good tip is to push the table you are working on against the wall so you have a nice right angle for a good bond. Slowly bond all the pieces together and then let it sit for at least 24 hours.

The last step is to get a tube of clear silcone and using your finger, run it around all of the inside edges. This will help prevent leaks.

Using acrylic to build the tank will give you many options. Clear and colored acrylic tubes are available in many sizes and shapes which will allow you to build a real custom tank for yourself or friends.

For more acrylic information see

How to Use Acrylic, Plexiglass & Lucite

Plexiglass and Lucite are both trade names for Acrylic, just like Coke and Pepsi are trade names for cola. Acrylic Plexiglass and Lucite are a hard plastic which most commonly comes in clear but is available in hundreds of colors and there are color chips just like formica brand laminates.

Acrylic can be rounted with special routing bits, machined on a bridgeport, milled using a CNC Router or Laser cut. Laser cutting has it's own advantages and drawbacks. The material is cut by burning it, leaving a good looking polished edge, BUT there are problems with peeling the protective film which can get fused to the material. To counter this the manufacturers have created a special acrylic with a film that does not fuse to the material as readily.

Acrylic is used for many purposes. Storm windows and skylites are two very common uses.

A form of Acrylic, Lexan which is a polycarbonite is used in the windshield, rear window and side windows of stock cars, in particular NASCAR Nextel Cup Racing. This material is shatterproof, but with this comes a drawback it is more able to be scratched. Most race teams only use the material one time, then change it out with new glass before the race car is used again.

Acrylic can also have it's edge polished by using one of two methods, flame polishing and buffing. Basically both methods do the same thing, they heat the edge of the material up and "gloss" it over. Flame polishing is not recommended if the material is going to be solvent welded to another piece of plexiglass.

Solvent welding is a method of chemically "melting" two piece of acrylic together to form a stong joint.

Acrylic can be line bent, thermoformed and injection molded. Line bending of acrylic is done to create sign holders, brochure holders, cell phone holders, and many other displays. Thermoforming or vacuum forming involves heating a sheet of material and pulling it over a mold then turning on a vacuum pump which pulls the material down tight on the mold until it cools. Vacuum forming is used extensively in jewelry displays, retail fixtures, merchandising displays and sunglass displays. It is a relatively cheap process due to the low cost of the molds involved. Injection molding is the most expensive as a two part aluminum mold must be created which is stong due to the pressure of the process. Basically the mold is closed and melted acrylic is injected into the cavity of the mold. The part is quickly cooled by water tubes that run through the mold. Then the mold is opened and the part is pushed out.

A great resource for acrylic displays, custom displays, sign holders and brochure holders is

For more information on acrylic, plexiglass, and Lucite the following manufacturers have great websites:

Monday, September 05, 2005

Brochure Holders and their use.

Brochure Holders come in many different styles and sizes. One of the most important decisions that needs to be made before deciding on a style is how much control you have over the environment the display will be placed in. If your company does not have much control, then the brochure holder must be branded to deter use of the brochure holder for another companies brochures. How many times have you seen American Express brochure holders with other brochures in them. By printing your logo on the unit, you can't prevent them from being used for other uses then you have envisioned, but it will help curb some of that misuse.

Brochure Holder, literature holders, magazine racks, newspaper racks come in many shapes and sizes, countertop, floorstanding and wall mount styles.

For a big selection of Brochure Holders see

Sign Holders and use in Retail Merchandising

There are many different types of sign holders you can use in a retail merchandising campaign. The most important decision on which sign holder to use if based on the type of environment they will be used in. A "harsh" environment will need something a lot stronger in a display, even though it is not as attractive as a acrylic sign holder. Metal sign holders and re-enforced plastics are much more resilient to breakage in this type of environment. An example of a rougher retail environment would be a Walmart Store. High traffic, high volume and long store hours will take there toll on point of purchase displays. An example of a more forgiving retail environment would be say a Bed and Bath Store or a Pier 1 Store.

A great web sight to see many sign holder styles would be