How to Print a Photo on Acrylic

By Fred Samsa ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Photocopy or laser print
  • Acrylic sheeting
  • Clamp
  • Masking tape
  • Blender pen (available at any art-supply store)
  • Large wooden or metal spoon
You can easily print photos onto acrylic at home.

Acrylic sheeting, often referred to by the brand name Plexiglas, is a versatile craft and art material. It is much safer and easier to work with than glass, but it offers the same transparency and smooth surface. However, a perfectly transparent piece of acrylic is not appropriate for all crafting and sculptural applications. If you would like to add visual interest to your acrylic sheeting, you can print photographic imagery onto acrylic at home.

Select the photo you would like to print onto acrylic sheeting. You can print it at home if you have a laser printer; inkjet prints do not work. If not, you can take the photo to a copy shop and purchase a photocopy or, if you have a digital file of the photo, ask for a laser printout of the photo. Since fresh photocopies or laser prints work best for printing onto acrylic, do not complete this step until you are ready to complete the project. Note that the final image will be the reverse of the print or photocopy: if you are using non-transparent acrylic that cannot simply be turned around to display the image correctly, then ask for a reverse print or photocopy.

Clamp your acrylic sheeting firmly to your work surface so that it cannot shift during printing. Center the laser print or photocopy on the acrylic, print side down. Tape down the print or photocopy with masking tape.

Rub the back of the print or photocopy with a blender pen. Do not soak the paper, but apply firm, even pressure with the pen methodically, covering the entire image area. The xylene chemical in the blender pen will release the toner from the print or photocopy and transfer it to the acrylic.

Rub the back of the paper with the back of a heavy wooden or metal spoon. Rub the entire image area thoroughly, applying firm pressure. The pressure from the spoon will affix the image to the acrylic.

Peel back a corner of the paper and examine the quality of the image transfer. If the image appears too light on the acrylic, replace the print and repeat the blender pen and spoon burnishing steps, above.

Warning

Always ensure adequate ventilation when working with blender pens.

About the Author

Fred Samsa has been writing articles related to the arts, entertainment and home improvement since 2003. His work has appeared in numerous museum publications, including program content for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and he was awarded a Presidential Fellowship in 2005. He holds a Master of Arts in art from Temple University and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Brown University.