One of the best ways to make translucent cosplay pieces and details is to cut and mold acrylic plastic sheets or plexiglass into the shapes you need. Acrylic and plexiglass make ideal substitutes for real glass because they're easier to work with and much less expensive, and these plastics are ideal for creating a cool effect when building visors, helmets, glasses, weapons, wings, robot parts, and much more. However, you'll need to be sure you're using the right glues if you want your acrylic builds to hold together. In this post, we'll explain how to glue acrylic and plexiglass pieces with common cosplay adhesives and discuss how to make plastic pieces that are the right color and stay transparent.
Best Cosplay Glues for Acrylic and Plexiglass Sheets
- Hot glue: Hot glue is one of the most popular adhesive choices for working with acrylic and plexiglass. While you'll need to be careful of the temperature you're using, a little heat can go a long way when it comes to gluing these types of plastics. By allowing the glue to melt the plastic just the slightest bit, you can effectively weld the acrylic to the surface you're adhering it to, whether that's foam, other plastics, Worbla, and more. Hot glue is quick to set while allowing you a few seconds of flexibility to adjust your pieces before it hardens. And we're willing to bet most cosplayers already have a hot glue gun on hand.
- Attach & Build double-sided adhesive sheets: When you're working with any common cosplay materials, even bonding one material to another, Attach & Build double-sided adhesive sheets are an ideal glue solution. With Attach & Build, all you need to do is cut the sheet to the size and shape you need for your acrylic surface, peel, and stick your plastic into place with the clear adhesive sandwiched inside the release paper. Attach & Build won't react poorly to plastics or almost any other cosplay material, so you don't have to worry about finding a glue that works for both surfaces. Additionally, Attach & Build sticks your pieces together with no mess, no fumes, and no dry time for an instant bond.
- Contact cement: Specifically, solvent-based contact cements (as opposed to water-based cements) can provide a strong hold to acrylic and plexiglass. Specifically, a solvent-based adhesive will soften the surfaces of acrylic and chemically weld the plastics together. This makes solvent-based contact cement a suitable adhesive option for combining multiple pieces of acrylic or plexiglass. However, you will need to be extremely careful when working with these adhesives. Contact cement is highly flammable and also releases toxic fumes, so you should only use contact cement with a mask and/or in a well-ventilated area.
- E-6000: Another adhesive option for acrylics and plexiglass is industrial strength E-6000. E-6000 provides amazing adhesion for even the toughest craft and cosplay materials, including plastics like acrylic and plexiglass. One of the biggest pluses of E-6000 is that it dries clear, meaning there's less of a risk of clouding up your translucent acrylics or leaving behind clear signs of the glue you used. E-6000 also dries with a flexible consistency that allows for some movement while still holding exceptionally well to plastic.
- 2-part epoxy glues: Finally, 2-part epoxy glues can also be extremely effective for gluing acrylic plastics. Once the two components of the adhesive are mixed, you'll need to be very careful applying the glue to your cosplay, as the glue sticks so well that you'll have a hard time removing it almost as soon as it's applied. However, the speed at which these quick 2-part epoxies cure can also be a positive when you're trying to build quickly or move on to other tasks without waiting for your cosplay build to dry for hours or even overnight.
Dyeing Transparent Acrylic Plastics
While clear plexiglass is extremely easy to find and purchase at hardware or big box stores across the country, you can often find acrylic in a wide variety of neons and colors if you're willing to do some research and order online. However, sometimes time and costs can limit cosplayers from ordering colored acrylic sheets in the exact color they need. Thankfully, with the right products, you can fairly easily dye clear plexiglass to any custom color you might need for your cosplay. When you dye your own plexiglass, you're in complete control of the intensity and shade of the color you choose.
To dye your plexiglass/acrylic, you'll just need a dispersion dye. One of the most common brand names of dispersion dye, for example, is Rit Dye, which is available in most craft stores. For an in-depth look at the process of dyeing acrylics, check out this article from Hubpages. With just a few extra steps added on to your cosplay process, you can get just about any color of translucent acrylic that you need to finish off your build.