DMStudios' Digital Playground

Glass Etching: cream vs blasting

Well another type of project I have been wanting to try since I got my Silhouette Cameo cutter was making vinyl masks to be used in laying over glass object for etching.

Verdict: blasting wins hands down IF you can do it, have the space/cabinet..etc

I used the ‘air eraser’.. and the media sold at HF. (my kit even came with a little bottle of it).. but I bought a bigger one for $10.00

It’s the stock aluminum oxide 220 grit I think

HarborFreight being the mess that it is.. actually has/had two kits when I went there..

A bunch of this one:

that look like nothing more than the gun & hose..

and waaaay in the back I saw a different box, which looked like real ‘kit’.. gun, hose, bottle of al. oxide abrasive, wall mount/hook, and crap-tastic face

red body vs body gun for ‘quick’ sign of different kits.. (and part numbers)

according to HF though.. 1 or both are discontinued? (so who knows.. they don’t know much over there)

decent purchase for under $20.00USD … probably not as quality as more expensive ones.. but it works.. sometimes a quick shake to unclog media, but got the job done none the less.. J

As for the two etching styles I tested:

here is the cream I tried initially..

at first I thought the cream results were “OK”..

I had read about the non-uniform finish.. (lighter/darker/patchy in some areas..etc)..

I got the same thing()s/results.. however.. to be fair.. Im not sure if I didn’t have a CLEAN glass/surface to begin with.. or maybe some of the ‘stick’ (residue) from the painters tape/transfer paper was left on the glass in certain areas? Oil from fingers?.. using a cream, ALL of that can affect it… so I don’t want to blame it ALL on the cream

So I was like ‘meh’ (might have potential if I can be more careful., was definitely easy & fast and required little prep/clean-up..etc)


**I put the cream on fairly THICK.. and left it on for 4+ minutes.. (the recommended time is 60 seconds)

When I tried the blasting method.. the results were MUCH better and, if can be done, is the method “I” would choose/do every time.

Darker, more uniform ‘etch’ is left.. decent edges as well.. (even on the 10+ font at bottom)


overall the blasting is BEST IMHO… but the cream ‘does’ work ok. Its great to be able to have this ability/option now..

Silhouette Cameo + etching cream/air eraser + Dollar Store = great, cheap gifts!


DIY: Homebrew PCB etching


Not sure how many (if any) of you may ever need to do this...

but if you want to mount those sensors we got or accent leds..(or anything) to a little custom PCB for your projects..

you can make a PCB all by yourself with nothing more than a black-n-white laser printer, the copper pcb board, and some etchant solution

Etchant Solution: ... Id=2102868

I think they stopped making them..but some stores still have old inventory.. (I got my last 2 kits for $3+ each)

# 276-1576 is the KIT# (read the description, and you'll see reference to the kit)

comes with:
etchant solution
etchant/ink remover solution
copper PCB board (2 thicknesses)
drill bit
scotch brite pad
permanent ink marker

you really only need the etchant and the copper pcb board.

I made a little layout/schematic (nothing special)

in photoshop.. @ 300 DPI

** make sure you print on glossy PHOTOPAPER.. this works best in my tests..

print out your schematic..

cut out schematic

iron schematic to the copper pcb board... let it sit a bit.. make sure transfer is nice.

under cold water.. 'wash away' the photo paper on the PCB board.. it will leave behind the INK/TONER from the paper on the PCB..

(I didnt take a pic of this....sorry)

but it would be like you printed ON the PCB (more or less) after you wash away the photo paper with water.

fill tray up with etchant solution..

throw section of pcb board with print out ironed on it..into tray..

(etchant will eat away/remove ALL copper 'except' where the ink/toner was left at)

once all copper is gone..and only black ink/toner is left on board...

you can take high grit sand paper or the scotch brite pad..and clean off the toner that was left on the board.. revealing the copper (now traces) on the board..

It can be used to get some fairly decent lines and things are very crisp for what it is..

I made a 'pcb' board to hold my X & Y axis swing sensors....and my clash sensor.. and soldered solid core wires that fit into my bread board to test with the RFX project..

Ive also used this method to make a few LED driver boards to drive a LUXIII/P4 w/PWM support... as well as a 3 & 4 driver board for RGB or RGBA diode LEDS..

I made these printing on WAX paper though..and the transfer isnt as good after ironing as using glossy photo paper and washing it away under water after ironing.

and these are just HOME BODY, DIY needs..and they work a treat..

image how small things could be if they were professional designed and manufactured!! PHOOK!>.lol

hope this helps any of the DIY builders out there..:)


For these tests...

I have used a very affordable HP LaserJet 1022n (n = networked)/

basic stock black-n-white laser printer.

as for photo paper.. I have success with several brands, sizes & type.. glossy or semi-gloss all types were..

all transfer CLEAN, SOLID lines..vs. using a wax paper or a mailing label backing or similar..

I was very impressed with the quality of transfer using photo paper vs. anything else.

re: etchant.. a few other things to note..

myself. (wrong or right).. I keep my solution in a plastic tub/container.. (with lid)..and just leave it.).. I re-use it.. sometimes adding more or etchant at times..

also adding air/bubbles to the solution helps speed up the process and works well...

my point/goal was to provide a method that doesnt require any special ordering of materials or supplies.. everything should be able to be purchased locally...for cheap!