Here is an interesting way to engrave plastics and some wood/paper – add an engraving tip to a soldering iron!
The burning technique has been used on wood for a long time, so I thought why not try it with plastics? It is fairly simple to make a tip for your soldering iron by using a piece of wire – even a paper clip will do. If you have an iron that allows tips to be replaced, and you have a cruddy used up tip, you can just file down the old one to the desired sharpness. If you would rather not have to unscrew your soldering iron to change tips, then here is how to make a removable one for any iron…
Simply file one end of the wire to the desired sharpness/shape. Bend the start of a coil using some pliers, leaving enough length for the tip to stick out past the one on the soldering iron. Try to wrap the wire around the shaft of the iron using your fingers and pliers if needed. Make sure the iron is cool and unplugged! Make enough loops so that the new tip is snug, but can still be removed.
Depending on the soldering iron you have, you may need to extend the wire up the shaft and make a retaining loop to keep the new tip at the correct position. Once this is done, bend the point into a position you will be comfortable using it. I just moved my point into the centre like a pencil, however, you might like to have it offset. Note that offset tips will want to rotate if your coils are too loose.
My mini soldering iron is already the right size for burning images, however I wanted something slightly finer. The new tip works well. This is what I used mine for:
When inscribing into plastic, a rough edge will usually be present – you can often remove most of it with a fingernail.
I hope you found this interesting; until next time, take care 🙂