Upcycle Acrylic Scraps Into New Sheets and Jewelry

The quick and dirty way to turn your old acrylic scraps from laser cutting into new sheets with panini press and car jack

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Video overview here:

We are going to show you the quick and dirty way to turn your old acrylic scraps from laser cutting into new sheets that you can cut some more! You basically just need panini-press or toaster and a bottle jack! Heat up the acrylic (not too much!) and then squish it between hot steel plates with the bottle jack, and in about 30 minutes you will have a new sheet of acrylic! Plus you can usually get fun combinations of colors!

If you want to learn the best ways to do this, you should check out the people who are really good at this, "Offcut Studio" . They are the masters of this technique and do it in a much less janky way. Plus you can hire they for an online consultation and they will tell you how to set up your acrylic recycling system well!

But if you just want to get started squishing old acrylic into new, see the full guide!

Most folks who have a laser cutter have a big pile of acrylic scraps laying around that eventually get thrown away. BUT! You can actually fuse these pieces back together and make new sheets for cutting!

At our little lab in the rainforest (, we have limited access to resources. So we have been upcyclingas much material as possible for prototyping and making art. So we recycle a lot of plastic from the community as well as cardboard for things like laser cutting or 3D printing.


The key challenge this project tackles is plastic waste. Especially amongst "makers" using rapid prototyping tools, there can be a lot of quick amazing things done, but it also generates a lot of material that usually goes in the garbage. This helps close the loop on that garbage and let's people create, toss, re-design, and recreate!


For plastics, I had always assumed that acrylic sheets (PMMA) were a lost cause. This type of plastic cuts super well with a laser but isn't really thermoplastic. Instead of becoming a liquid goo when heated up, it just sort of gets a little gummy-like and then starts burning if you keep heating it. (Look at the third picture for an example of when they get heated too much)

Leif on Youtube

But then I started seeing a couple amazing things: Like this person Leif, who heated up the acrylic and then squished it into a giant block:

Offcut Studio

Then even more impressive, this person, "Off Cut Studio" has been making gorgeous repurposed sheets out of acrylic scraps and then turning those into jewelry and other things! It looks like they have a nice proper heatpress that is much more made for this job. They also offer consulting services online you should contact if you want to get started! My tests here are much more inexperienced, and I'm absolutely sure they have MUCH BETTER advice than I do!

Theory: Heat + Pressure + Time

So I started wondering how they were able to do this? As i mentioned before, whenever I tried heating up acrylic scraps they would just get a little soft and bendable, but wouldn't stick to each other. But then I noticed in these two folks who had fused acrylic, they both had the missing element PRESSURE.

The entire key to fusing acrylic is to have it HOT and UNDER HIGH PRESSURE for a LONG TIME (at least 30 mins)


If you just heat the acrylic it won't stick together. If you heat it around 325F / 165C (at least on my paninin press) it seems to get nice and rubbery without burning.

If you try to squish it together by just putting some weights on top of it, it also won't really melt together. Instead you need a much more powerful force to start squeezing them so much that they fuse into each other.


I don't know the exact specs on Leif or Offcut Studio's presses, but I did some quick, cheap experiments myself. First I had a 2 ton bottle jack, and did some tests and it came out OK, but sometimes the parts were still loose. I then upgraded to using my truck's 8 ton bottle jack. This seemed to work a bit easier.


During my first tests, i had figured once the plastic was squished it would be fine, but this hot acrylic is springy! It needs time with the heat and pressre to slowly meld into itself. It might work after just 10 minutes, but fo realiability we have been waiting 30 minutes. Do some tests yourself and see what works!.

  • 1 × Scrap Acrylic (like all the leftovers from laser cutting)
  • 1 × Oven / Panini Press / Heat Press
  • 1 × Galvanized / stainless steel sheets
  • 1 × Metal Plates
  • 1 × Bottle Jack (8ton)

View all 9 components

  • 1
    Collect or Shred

    The most basic way to do this is just grab whatever scraps of plastic you have laying around and toss them into the heater. But if you want more control over your work, you can first sort the acrylic by color! Also if you have a plastic shredding machine (we do luckily!) you can break down the acrylic into tinier bits that can make for an even more homogenous sheet when you melt and press them.

    You can also shred it

  • 2
    Heat Plastic and Plates

    Remember one of the keys of this process is that the plastic needs to stay heated WHILE it is being pressed. We are using the steel plates as a way to hold the heat on the acrylic while it is being smashed (They are like thermal ballast). Folks like offcut studio seem to have a cool machine that heats WHILE it is pressing which makes it a lot easier, but we are doing this the cheapo-DIY way!

    So put your metal sheets onto your pannini press / other heat source. Then put your thin galvanized metal sheets on top of the thick metal plates. Then add your acrylic off-cuts or shredded acrylic. Remember you can do this with small sheets of acrylic or off-cut bits or small shreds, it all works good!

    Heat everything 325F / 165C

    Let the plates and the acrylic get nice and warm for about 10 minutes.

    Notice i have some weights on top, these won't be enough to heat press the acrylic, but the little bit of added pressure helps get the heat into all the parts.

  • 3
    Press (with Heat)

    After the plates seem saturated with heat and the acrylic is nice and warm it's time to transfer it to the press!

    Use some heat-proof gloves to move your hot metal+ acrylic sandwhich to your press.

    Start cranking the press when everything is locked down into place. You should be able to noticably see the gap where the acrylic is getting noticably smaller. Crank your jack until you have reached the desired thickness (Usually i aim for half the original thickness of what i put in there, so i know it's been smashed well!) and then let the whole setup sit for 30 minutes.

    MAKE SURE NOT TO OVERLOAD THE CAPACITY OF YOUR PRESS. That is, if you built a press yourself like we did, don't crank it so tight that the press itself might break!

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