How Do You Polish Plastic?

We all like shiny things. Maybe that’s why they say diamonds are a girl’s best friend. However, not everyone can afford diamonds, but that doesn’t mean we can’t afford other equally brilliant things like polished plastic. Plastic is used in a wide variety of products, for example B. in tail lights, turntables and even in spectacle lenses. Over time, plastic becomes dull and to give it back the shine of a bright appearance, polishing is the only option. If you’ve never had to polish plastic before, here’s everything you need to know, including the different types of treatments, methods, and materials used. We will also explain why it is important to know what kind of plastic you are working with before you start your project. According to this LinkedIn article, there are several methods of polishing plastics, and each method depends on the project. Among them.


The best thing about polishing is that it works on all types of plastics. Before polishing, consider the depth of the scratches you want to remove; shallow scratches should be lightly sanded, while deeper scratches should be sanded. Preparation for sanding and polishing is also an important step. So the first thing you need to do is clean the surface to remove any impurities that could cause additional scratches. A clean cotton cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol or hot dishwashing liquid will do. There is no need to use ready-made products to remove scratches; a few toothpastes applied to the surface in a circular motion with a clean cotton cloth will help smooth them out. However, you need to be patient to achieve the desired results as it can take up to ten minutes. If you prefer a toothpaste substitute, baking soda is also suitable. Mix it with water in a ratio of 1:1 and apply with a clean cotton cloth in a circular motion.

Continue to rinse off the residue and gently scrape the surface until you get the desired result. Baking soda and toothpaste are for shallow scratches, so if you’re not happy with the results after trying these two products, switch to sandpaper. According to Bob Veal, wet sanding smooths the surface much faster than toothpaste or baking soda. The sandpaper should be damp so that the moisture does not scratch the plastic further. However, the process is similar to the other two products, starting with fine sandpaper and ending with fine sandpaper. Once the plastic is smooth, sanding causes a loss of gloss. Therefore, you should apply the polishing product in a circular, clean and dry motion.

Flame arrestors

The manual describes in detail how to polish the plastic with the flame. Materials required : 300 gram sandpaper, propane torch, masking tape, orbital sander and plastic, preferably acrylic as polycarbonate blisters when exposed to flame. The first step is to protect the plastic from heat scratches. Therefore, use plastic coating tape before using an orbital sander to remove imperfections on the plastic. Depending on the item, you should hold the orbital sander at a 90-degree angle to avoid rounding the edges, which would deform the plastic.

The next step is to clean the plastic to remove contaminants, as the dirt for the flame fuses with the plastic. After cleaning, it’s time to start flame polishing. You should practice beforehand or watch someone else do it so the plastic doesn’t burn. It usually takes a few seconds. In any case, the plastic burns, noticeable by small bubbles that roughen up the surface and never smooth out. So walk across the surface as if you were brushing your hair, and make sure the area you are working in is well ventilated; the burner gives off carbon monoxide, which can be deadly if you are in an enclosed space. According to the article, the finished varnish should look like a ball of water flowing over the surface.

Steam cleaning

According to Star Rapid, steam polishing is one of the best methods for achieving optimum transparency in plastics and is therefore used mainly for high-quality light optical lenses. However, as with all methods of polishing plastics, removing scratches before polishing is an important step in the process. The surface should therefore be sanded with 1000 to 1500 grit before steam sanding. The advantage of this method is that it is very fast, as the results are visible within seconds of application, which makes it very economical and saves time for large projects. It uses Weldon 4 gas to clean the polycarbonate in seconds by melting its surface. Since the gas is highly toxic, an activated carbon mask must be used and polishing must be performed in a controlled environment. The room is also filled with Weldon 4 gas, and powerful exhaust fans remove the solvent gas when the process is complete.

Why is it important to know which type of plastic to polish

Most designs are made of polycarbonate or acrylic, commonly known as plexiglass. Plexiglas is more problematic than polycarbonate for plastic polishing because it is much more susceptible to scratches. In addition, Plexiglas is available in two types: extruded and cast. The former is much harder to work with because it breaks easily and is very sensitive to heat. Therefore, machine or flame polishing can be more problematic, as it can become viscous. These difficulties in working with extruded plexiglass are due to the fact that it is formed under pressure and is therefore subject to internal stresses. On the other hand, polycarbonate and molded plexiglass are easier to work with, but they too can generate heat, especially when polishing with a polishing wheel.

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