The award that got us into customizable acrylic awards is the Louisiana Plaque. We started making these for a few corporations about 5 years ago and we produce between 50-100 a year. While the Louisiana Plaque is the biggest award we make it’s not restricted to the usual 11 x 10 size. A year ago we manufactured a custom version for a Casino contest that stood about 5 feet high(Pictured Above).
When we set up the award in Corel Draw the file contains 2 parts. 1 part consist of the file that’s a raster image. The 2nd part of the image is the Vector part. The raster is what will be etched into the award; the vector is the cutting part of the image. The greeting text , dates and refinery image are a part of the raster. The name, and Conoco logo is vector. The Vector art will be printed as a cutting file because this plaque contains foil. Foil is a way to add color to our engraved awards. The foils come in a variety of colors including : Brushed gold, polished gold, polished silver, metallic red, metallic blue, bright copper, metallic green and metallic black. For this plaque we use brushed gold for the names and metallic red for the logo.
Normally when we engrave on acrylic it’s 1 and done. Meaning the acrylic gets engraved once and it’s finished. For this award it gets a couple of passes in the machine. On the first pass the objective is to get all of the raster engraving onto the award. We place the acrylic face down in the machine. The reason for doing this is to add perspective to the award. All of the raster image is reversed. That way when looking through the award it adds depth.
Once the engraving is finished we flip it, turning the face side up to apply the foil. Once the award is re-centered we run the cutting file at a very fast speed and low intensity to just barely cut into the acrylic. This takes a total of about 2 min and then we lay the foil over the carved areas. When the foil is applied we’re ready to run the same file again same speed and intensity. What that is going to accomplish is it’s going to seat the foil into the acrylic so the foil sticks and doesn’t fall off when we turn the award upright. Once the engraving is finished we clean up the award removing any excess acrylic dust and residue as well as any excess foil.
The final step in making a Louisiana Plaque is mounting the award to the base. We use an industrial adhesive chemical that will meld the base and plaque together. This adhesive starts to work right away and the award is okay for movement after about 5 min of application. The glue continues to strengthen the longer the base and award are in contact. After48 hours the base and award is pretty much 1 in the same. So after we glue the award to the base we let it sit over night and when we come in the next day it’s a little bit of a cleaning with a bottle of windex and off to the client.