How to Etch Acrylic Plastic

Updated April 17, 2017

Etching is a fun and simple art form. Working with acrylic can be easy because of its transparency. You can hang etched acrylic designs in front of a window to get a stained-glass effect or from a ceiling with a light behind it. Alternatively, you can simply hang the etched acrylic on your wall. Using the tracing technique means etching your favourite designs doesn't require a lot of artistic skill.

Find a simple source image that you would like to etch. An image with simple lines and without a lot of shading works best. Comic books are a good source for simple images.

Place your image backward on a flat surface as you are etching the reverse side of the acrylic. Take the protective covering off the acrylic. Place the acrylic on top of the image. Center the image. Tape the corners of the paper to the acrylic.

Practice etching a few lines on some scrap acrylic before starting your image. Use the etcher for thin lines and the rotary tool for thick lines.

Trace the image's lines slowly and carefully. Start at the slowest speed then adjust the knob to a speed with which you feel comfortable.


Remove adhesive markings left by tape with isopropyl. Blow off any debris as wiping will likely scratch your acrylic.


Do not to rush your etching. If you slip, you cannot erase your mistakes.

Things You'll Need

  • Sheet of acrylic, 1/16-inch or 1/8-inch
  • Etcher
  • Rotary tool
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About the Author

As a freelance writer and editor since 2006, Kiva Bottero's work has appeared in magazines such as "Healing Path," "Green Living" and "Synergy." He started Mindful Word online magazine to explore his love of mindfulness and engaged living. Bottero holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Western Ontario and studied magazine publishing at Ryerson University.