crylic is often used as an alternative to glass. It is less dense, has higher impact strength than glass and will not shatter. Lera Glass stepped into acrylic fabrication back in the late 70's to fulfill the need for acrylic windshield production when the company manufactured motorcycle fairings. Over the years, Lera Glass has produced everything from very simple cut-and-glue projects to extremely complex combinations of drape-formed and pressure-formed fabrications.
Motorcycle Fairing Using the flexibility of the acrylic process
This photograph shows a motorcycle fairing we originally designed for a BMW Distributor. Fairings are the reason we got into acrylic fabrication in the first place. We were good at making the fiberglass parts but had trouble getting the windshields we wanted. So we started experimenting and came up with methods for working acrylic.
In acrylic fabricating there are three basic techniques: cutting and gluing a piece together, heating and drapping hot acrylic over a form (drape forming) and pressure forming using a vacuum or compressed air. This windshield was heated, pressure formed using compressed air and shaped with a dye. (A tricky combination of pressure forming and drape forming.)
This photograph shows acrylic columns we made for a company called Trinity Engineering. The columns ended up in Sephora's Rockerfeller Center Store. They were designed with inset nitches that had a flat base for displaying small bottles of perfume. In the store they were lit from within producing a glowing effect.
This is about as complex as acrylic fabricating gets. The Columns start off as 1/2 inch sheet stock, they are then heated in an oven we built and wrapped around a mandrel, when cooled they were slid off the end. Then they were routed to accept the nitches, the nitches were pressure formed out of 3/8ths thick acrylic. The acrylic was heated, and then pressure formed into a dye under 160 lbs of pressure. The nitches were cut to shape following pressure forming, then glued into the column's pre-cut holes using a proprietary method of adhesive. The assembled pieces are trimmed and sandblasted for a frosted effect.
Fish Tank Lighting
These are components we made for a Fish Tank Lighting System. Basically the tanks are a section of fiberglass pipe with flanges on both ends. Bolted to one flange is a flat section of acrylic. Bolted to the other flange is a 1/2 sphere we made pressure forming acrylic. These were mounted on a steel frame and set up in three rows of three. Lights were set up behind the tanks so that colored light was projected through the tanks. Panels were set up so that only the bubble parts of the tanks showed. Goldfish were put into the tanks. The bubble shape of the tanks exaggerating their size.
We made the fiberglass tubes, acrylic and the steel frame to support it all.
These are some light diffusers we made for a company called Reification. In the end they were used in Charles Schwab's Hawaiian home. The fluted round diffusers started off as acrylic tube. It was perssure formed into fiberglass molds we made that defined the final shape. The squared off diffusers were a cut and glue assembly. These pieces were also sandblasted to give the frosted effect. They were made to fit custom metal assemblies manufactured by Reification.
This is a taxi sign that was a cut and glue fabrication.