So about a week ago I sent off the vector files to Ponoko to get my first protype laser cut and received the results in the mail the other day!
The pattern for the "circuitry" was laser engraved so that the protective paper could be strategically peeled off to produce as stencil for spray painting the pattern onto the acrylic.
The peeling process was really quick and painless. I then taped the boards down to a piece of cardboard to protect the edges and then shot it with a couple coats of black lacquer spray paint.
I don't have a spray booth so there are a few little specks in the paint but overall everything looks pretty good.
Normally you don't want the paint to completely cure before peeling off your stencil. Removing your stencil while the paint is still a little soft helps prevent the paint from tearing up at the edges but I suspected this might not be a problem since there was a little laser trough in between the paper and the final painted areas. To test this idea I waited a couple hours and peel off most of the paper while the paint was still soft but left a good number of pieces to remove the next day. I'm glad to report that the fully cure paint posed no problem what so ever and I was able to handle the pieces much more comfortably while removing these final bits.
Next step to make these a little more accurate would be the sand the edge round, but I might save that for the next batch. I'm kind of afraid of messing these up after finally finishing them Next time I'll round the edges before removing the protective paper.
Overall the prototypes are a roaring success!
I feel the circuitry pattern is about 90% accurate. I had to build the graphics from a bunch of piecemeal reference shots. There is never a perfectly centered and focused clear shot of the pattern in the whole run of the show and I have never seen these come up in an auction setting which of course would be the ideal scenario. That said, I think I got REALLLY close through so much cross referencing of images.
The main thing I'd like to figure out further is the color of the plastic. For this version I chose Ponoko's "Fluoro Orange" over the regular orange. Looking at all the screen grabs you can see that the edges of the plastic always appear lighter than the main area of the plastic. This is a characteristic of florescent acrylics. Regular colored acrylics appear darker at the edges under normal lighting. Fluoro Orange also has a weird pinkish hue that happens from time to time in certain lighting. This can be seen in the show as well. I do however wish that this shade of florescent orange was just a touch more red. I think that maybe 80's fluoro acrylics had a slightly different color shift since most modern fluoro oranges all seem to look pretty similar or at least from what I can tell from looking at pictures online. Maybe a pink prototype is in order?
This subtle difference of color also might just be an artifact of the old film stock. Real film can do strange things to colors. Bizarre material/light physics stuff.
To get to the bottom of this I've started to collect photos of screen used Isolinear chips from peoples collections trying to see what different acrylics were being used by the prop makers at the time. I still need to sit down with those images and come to my final conclusions on that front.
Next up, I'll be fabricating the card holder! Stay tuned.
Any thoughts or opinions?