The first plastic cake that I made was flat on the top but was not properly melted when I removed it from the baking dish. This was frustrating because it was not something that I could go back and correct. I did cut a comb from this plastic sheet to get an idea of how the illustrator design would cut. So it wasn’t all a waste!
I created a second plastic sheet/cake and this time, I left it in the oven for almost an hour. This meant that I had to cover the top after about 45 minutes to prevent the sheet from burning. Once I removed the sheet from the oven, I used clamps to ensure the sheet would harden completely flat. This would make cutting so much easier as I would be able to ensure the cut was the whole way through the plastic sheet. Being patient and waiting for the sheet to cool completely was really important! With a second plastic sheet I made, I didn’t wait for it to cool completely and as a result, the thickness was not consistent and I had trouble cutting with the laser cutter.
I also found that using baking/greaseproof paper to stop the sheet from sticking to the baking dish left an annoying sheen on the plastic. I was able to use a heat gun to carefully heat the surface to melt it again, only slightly! When I first tried this, I heated it too much and found that the teeth on the comb started to warp. Whoops! With the next comb, I made sure to keep the heat away from the teeth and only heat the surface very slightly. This gave the plastic sheet a gloss once again.
To further improve the sheen of the fished product, I sprayed them with an acrylic gloss to protect the comb and also improve the appearance. The gloss finish did take a while to dry and I had to leave them overnight but it was worth the wait! The gloss changed the overall appearance quite significantly and the material to touch was smoother and felt more like the comb that originally inspired my idea.