Embedments Explained

The manufacturing of acrylic embedments began shortly after World War II. It has remained one of the best kept manufacturing secrets, handed down through trusted associates. Because of the tremendous technical knowledge required, the total number of actual manufacturers remains very small. While much of the process is technically demanding, a basic overview is helpful to enhance understanding of the finished product.

Acrylic is a high quality product. The versatility of acrylic allows it to be custom designed into a variety of shapes and sizes, incorporating many different types of embedded elements. However, due to chemical reactions during the process, not everything can be embedded.

The process starts with two basic ingredients, an acrylic resin powder and monomer, a crystal clear liquid. The powder and monomer are mixed together in specific proportions.

Pouring Embedments

The result is a thick, opaque liquid. The mixture is hand poured into molds and allowed to partially harden. Objects to be embedded are then hand placed into the acrylic layer. Another layer is poured over the embedded object and the acrylic is again allowed to harden. During this stage, the liquid acrylic is an opaque, milky white. It is very difficult to center objects on multiple levels when the objects below cannot be clearly seen. Because theses embedded objects are placed by hand, no two acrylic embedments are ever 100% alike.

Curing Embedments

After the acrylic has hardened, the molds are placed into an oven. There, heat cures, and pressure squeezes out the air bubbles, to completely harden the embedment. This curing process may take up to seven hours. After cooling, the acrylic embedments are removed from the molds and the sizing process begins. All acrylic parts are cast oversized to allow for shrinkage, which varies from part to part. Three steps are taken to size the embedments.

Sanding Embedments

The parts are ground down to size by hand on large industrial sanders. A coarse grit belt is used first, followed by a medium grit belt. A final sanding with a fine grit belt makes it easier to polish the sanded acrylic. Variations occur in this sizing process since it is all done by hand.

Buffing & Polishing Embedments

Polishing is the next step in the process. It is also done by hand. This brings out the luster and high gloss of the acrylic not previously seen during production. A rough buffing is administered to remove all sanding lines. A final polishing then brings out the bright crystal-like finish. The production of the acrylic embedment is completed.

Inspecting Embedments

The final phase now begins. Each embedment is carefully hand wiped and visually inspected. If flaws are detected, the part is returned for additional finishing or rejected for recycling.

After passing through inspection, each part is individually bagged and boxed. Orders are then shipped out all over the world. Each acrylic embedment is a unique creation, ready to satisfy another customer with the knowledge that their message will be forever displayed in striking acrylic.