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CNC graphic: price and location


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I've been skiing a lot behind some friends' moomba direct drive open bow. Moomba's don't come with the wind dam that our Bu's do. I decided to make one for their boat as a gift and it turned out well. The last thing I want to do with it is CNC some words and graphics into it like the Malibu one. I tried sand blasting a piece of scrap plexiglass and it didn't do too well. I will try some heavier media, but was hoping a CNC machine could help.

Does anyone know what something like this would cost if I brought them a black and white graphic and said I want it CNCed 1/16 inch down? Is that possible? Are there any places in the northern IL or Southern WI area that would do this?


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Your best possibility is a local trophy shop. They probably have a laser, but your panel would have to fit inside. They also will have the ability to laser cut a rubber mask that they will glue on your panel and then bead blast the pattern (sand is probably too rough).

Another possibility is a pal with a CNC router. Most of them that I have seen would easily take a panel that size, and router guys seem to be set up with straight or down cut bits, which will definitely help with plastic.

My CNC mill could do the graphics, but it would have to be near the top edge since I'm sure I don't have enough Y travel to reach over to the center of the panel.

Note that if you find a laser, they can do very sharp inside corners. If you go with a mill, cutter diameter defines the minimum corner (you will always have a radius on an inside corner). Mill guy will not like you if you want a very tiny radius....

You didn't post pictures!

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Here is the cut out plate with routed edges:


Scrap piece with some sand blasting:


Same piece with the flash on.


In real life it's pretty hard to see the sand blasted part. You can easily see through it to read text 10 feet away when it should be rough enough to not see through at all other than ambient light. The media I was using was ground glass 40/70 grit. I think I'll try some heavier abrasive on the test piece and see if that helps. I wouldn't mind a slight cost for machining, but if it's going to cost more than $50, I'd rather just get the sand blasting to work. This is the first time I've worked with sand blasting.

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You can also try inking the bead blasted part. A diluted wash of acrylic paint might get you what you want. Just wipe it on and then rub with a dry rag to clean the clear parts off. The blasted part should hold some of the color.

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I'm worried about any type of ink or glue in the hot sun and possibly bleeding. There are some vinyl shops around though that might be able to make something that would work. I'll look into that if I can't get the blasting to work

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We've done the blasting on countless custom audio installs over the last 25 years. Yeah, I'm old. Usually light them up from the edges.

Used to go to Kinko's and blow up the image in paper, cut it out, and use it as a stencil to mask it off on the plexi. Use a heavy (thick) pinstripe vinyl to outline it, then use duct tape or masking tape with some weight to it to protect the surrounding area. Always blow the sand from the outside of the area inward, so as not to lift the masking and bleed under.

Now if we blast we have a heavy vinyl stencil cut. Bunch more money but you save it (and then some) in time. Some places can even save the cut-out area so you can have a wall hanger for yourself...just stick it to some colored plexi on a shadow box and light it up.

I do agree that with the wild temperature fluctuations in a boat a "frosted" vinyl graphic may bleed residue out the sides over time. We use them more often than blasting now for two reasons: 1) consistent uniform finish, and 2) it's just easier. They are just not as durable for an application like yours. Most of ours are protected in some way, not being thrown into storage.

Edited by jk13
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^^ I used to do exactly the same thing. I used to use two layers of contact paper, lay it down on the plexi then lay the logo sticker on top and then cut the logo out with a razor blade then hit it with the sand blaster. I would say you need to just spend a bit more time blasting what you have. Here's my old car from high school with the sub cabinet and amp rack after rocking this set-up for ~8 years. It held up well.


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The two layers is to keep the areas you don't want done pristine. If you look at your test piece there are a few areas outside your design that have some pock marks. The adhesive on the protective covering usually isn't as good as you need and you'll have soft edges instead of sharp ones. You could leave it if you mask just inside of it, but then you risk razor marks from cutting it outside your design. Better to start fresh.

We just use whatever heavy grit sand is cheapest that'll go through our gun.

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Just thought I would show the finished product. It turned out great if I do say so myself. Thanks for all the help you guys, especially jk13 and martinarcher!

I still have to install the C channel runners that will hold it in place, but that's easy with some double stick automotive tape. I ended up getting some new blasting media. The stuff I was using just wasn't abrasive enough. I got this cheap stuff from Menard's called Black Blast; $8 for a 50lb bag. That worked like a charm and I have plenty left over for stripping some rust on another project coming up.

Ignore the smudges. I haven't cleaned it yet.


Just so no one is freaking out, I did not misspell anything. We have a crew member from Argentina. When she says dude, it sounds like doot. So the three of us are The Three Doots. The skis you see are actually our three skis.

Edited by Jimmypooh
  • Like 3
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Here are the guides. The right one is done, left one still needs to be buffed. They are made from Aluminum C channel. I need to get a proper buffing wheel. Right now I used a cheap pad on my bench grinder. I like the ability to buff, but the tools I'm using definitely need an upgrade.

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