Clear Casting Systems

High Clarity Plastics, Resins, Polymers, Opti-Kleer™(105), & Acra Poly™(329)

Optical Quality Embedments
Display - Exhibits Parts
Opto-Electronic Potting
Translucent Components
Sculpture - Fine Art Polymers
Furniture & Clear Decor
Mass Cast Crystal Clear Objects
Graphic Shapes
Soft-Hard Clear Encapsulents
Architectural Reproductions
See Through Museum Mounts
Neon Embedments
Clear-Translucent Resins
Cast Prism's - Lenses & Color Filters
Architectural-Polymer Cements & Lighting
Since 1964 our firm has developed several proprietary liquid thermosetting resins for casting, laminating flat or dimensional shapes.
Custom projects have included mass cast load bearing structural elements, such as see through dance floors, wall panels, stair treads, doors, counters and bartops.
A diverse range of crystal clear plastics are employed for bas relief, and complex contoured shapes.
Polymers, epoxies, polyurethanes, vinyl esters, polycarbonates, and hybrid resins trade marked as Acra Poly, Opti-Kleer, SilGel and others.
Variants include resilient, flexible and soft elastomeric compounds.
Available as water clear high optical quality or in a variety of opaque-translucent colors.
Custom tones include color coordinated themes to match designer requirements and range from glossy to matte finishes.
Metallic effects include bonded bronze, copper, brass, pewter and hi reflectance alloys held in suspension as a bonded composite.
Encapsulated accents include logos-graphic images, fiber optics, light emitting diodes-(LED's) and neon tubing for mood glow lighting. From beer tap handles to under-lit and embedded light bar-table tops.
Suspended-floating embedments have included: artifacts, coins, gems, gold bars, jewelry, gears, bent glass, buttons, circuits, glass chips, meteorites, movie-theatre tickets, bottle tops, wine labels, marbles, pins-insignias, metal chips, bones, bullets, bolts, hardware, sea shells, minerals, metallic glitter, utensils, military medals, keys, toys, aggregates-pebbles, ferns-seascapes, etc.
All shapes and sizes-clear or colors are available.
From moon rock embedments for NASA to themed restaurants and night club decor our skilled artisans have produced hundreds of fascinating artistic expressions captured in durable, scratch-abrasion resistant and fireproof glass like encapsulative polymers.
Innovative design expressions which simulate frosty glass elements for lighting fixtures includes prisms for (LED) kinetic color changing effects. Sconces, elevator cab overhead light panels, floor lamps, and piped light free forms.
Organic "soft light" components have included collections for famed artists such as Isamu Noguchi employing diffusional frit-mineral dispersions such as magnesites.
Former Zeller divisions such as the plastics factory produced custom cast shapes for wet-dry, interior-exterior applications.
From thin free standing panels to movable elements that endure hostile exposures. Our firm has the experience and knowledge to form cast any required design.
We provide the following:
Consulting-engineering services
Raw materials-resin systems
Custom casting on a contract basis
Licensing-training and facility design
Project management
Code certification-approval for architectural, marine and public assembly applications
We welcome your inquiry for custom crafted shapes or business related to proprietary casting of liquid hi clarity polymers.
Drawings and detailed data is encouraged.

The following article was published in "The Family Creative Workshop"



Poured acrylics                            prdacrylpg1-00.jpg (7284 bytes)  
     Funny how they accumulate, all those bits and pieces saved as reminders of good times, important times, other days, other people. There are, for example, the sea shells the kids gathered at the beach last summer. There's that Willkie button you have had forever. The big copper penny from that trip several years ago — pennies aren't even used in London any more. Don't forget the butterfly that is the pride of your daughter's collection. How about the ticket stubs, polished stones, brass button, locket key, bracelet charm, World War II medal, miniature doll—the list of such fragments is endless.

     What are you going to do with all those things? Will souvenirs merely pile up until they burst from closets and drawers to engulf the entire household?

     Fortunately, there is a craft activity that can transform these odds and ends into beautiful and charming objects. The technique is called embedment, and it is done with acrylic plastic. This material is not the same as that used to create the room divider. The name is the same and the chemical formula is similar, but the properties are vastly different.

     It is just this difference that makes possible a whole new list of craft items. In this form (and combined with other plastics), acrylic is a slow-moving liquid that pours like country molasses. When another chemical,
called a catalyst, is added to it, the soft plastic turns first to a stiff jelly and then into a rock-hard substance that remains crystal clear. Because of these unique properties, you can embed in a transparent block
all sorts of objects.

     Although the plastic is poured in layers, one layer blends so perfectly with the next that you never will be able to discern the joint between them. This is craftwork where a small investment in patience pays
dividends because the task is easy, the praise high.

  Gary Zeller
  Gary Zeller operates a manufacturing plant and a school called the Plastics Factory; teaches plastics at Pratt Institute; is a craftsman, designer, and consultant; has a wife, two cats, and a dog; and considers himself a connoisseur of ice cream.
  Embedment 14
  14: Pour embedment materials into smaller containers to ease handling. Shown here are: Front row: Catalyst in eyedropper bottle, mixing container, paste wax. Back row: Casting plastic (in cut-down detergent bottle), additive for smoother casting, and liquid mold release.
Embedments are not necessarily small. This huge memorabilia coffee table by no means represents the size limit. But it is wise to begin with smaller projects.   Embedment 15
15: Many items in the kitchen make excellent and inexpensive molds. Easily identifiable above are such everyday objects as flexible ice-cube tray, muffin tin, jelly molds, a tin can, soft-plastic mixing bowls, and a ladle





Embedments 16 Embedments 17
16: Apply a thin strand of rope-type window caulking (sold in hardware stores) to smooth off corners of sharp-edged molds. Smooth to a rounded cove shape. 17: Apply a coat of mold release, to make certain the hardened casting will leave the mold easily. Flow on a generous layer as it comes from the container; let dry.


Embedments Figure A

Embedments 18 Embedments 19
18: Wipe on a coat of paste car wax after the mold release is thoroughly dry, as insurance mold will release casting. Keep the wax layer thin, and buff smooth. 19: Use a hair drier to warm the mold and dry surface, mold release, and wax. Moisture in the mold could cause white spots, and even cracking, in the casting.
     Use stock materials when you try plastic embedment, and keep notes on how they work, to find the brands that produce the results you like best. Don't mix manufacturers' products; use basic plastic, catalyst, and additives made by the same company. Later you may want to try non-fracture
additives, accelerators to speed hardening, and other magic chemicals. (I formulate my own plastic materials to get the exact combination I want.)
Mold Making
     Rigid acrylic sheet makes a fine mold. Cut sections of the plastic, and fasten them together, using solvent-type adhesive and hollow-needle applicator (figure Al). To make certain the mold does not warp, reinforce it with wood strips underneath. Drill and countersink holes in the base
(figure A2 ). Drive in screws until heads are flush with plastic (figure A3).
Embedments 20 Embedments 21
20: Measure the exact quantity of liquid-plastic material needed for each layer poured. Proportions are critical. Follow instructions on plastic label. 21: Only small quantities of catalyst are needed to start the hardening action.Use an eyedropper here, but do it strictly
by the book or the plastic won't harden.

16 Figure A: Assembling acrylic mold.


Add more bracing at the corners or along the sides of the mold wherever extra support may be useful, as shown in figure B. If in doubt, always overbuild. The extra work is minor when compared with the task of trimming down a lopsided or bulging embedment.
Strictly speaking, molds are not tools. However, you will need them. To start, buy polyethylene molds in a craft-supply store. These are made of soft, waxy plastic. Castings readily pop loose from them. Experiment with ice-cube trays (the soft-plastic type) for small embedments such as rock samples or insects. Glass jars can be used only once, because you have to break them (gently) to release the casting.
One small item that makes casting much easier is quite inexpensive, but you need a good supply—stirring sticks. You should have them in a series of sizes. Buy them by the box. Get coffee stirrers and tongue depressors for small jobs, paint paddles for big ones. Embedments Figure B
Measurements Are the Key
Most proportions are determined by volume: ounces or drops. For this, measuring cups and eyedroppers are fine. Later, as you get into larger work, you will probably find that it is handier to weigh the ingredients. Accuracy will demand that you use a reasonably precise scale, but a good kitchen unit will serve perfectly well unless you are planning to turn professional and open a factory.

Figure B;Acrylic mold with bracing.

Embedments 22 Embedments 23
22: Some objects require special treatment
before embedding. Porous materials, such as this leather shoe, must be sprayed with acrylic to seal the surface.
23: Tiny molds like the one shown here require the same base or first layer as the largest mold does. Pour the bottom layer no more than Vs inch thick.
Embedments 24 Embedments 25
24: If the object you are embedding tends to curl away from the plastic, press it down lightly. Let base layer harden to gel stage before pouring next layer. 25: Coins sometimes cause the plastic to crack as it sets. To prevent this, pour in several thin layers of plastic, letting each gel before you pour the next.


Embedments 26 Embedments 27
26: When using a large mold such as this one, make sure it is exactly level, so that the plastic will fill it in a series of thin, perfectly even layers. 27: If you try to hurry the job, bubbles may form in the plastic. To minimize the risk, pour the plastic down a stick as you feed it slowly into the mold.
Embedments 28 Embedments 29 Embedments 30
28: Add objects to be embedded as soon as the bottom layer sets to a rubbery consistency. In big pourings, you may embed objects in each of several layers. 29: Pour next layer, allowing proper setting time between the pours. If you rush the process or pour too thick a layer, the plastic may crack. 30: If necessary, polish casting with buffing wheel and compound, after breaking away mold to release the casting. Unmold when plastic is barely warm to the touch.
Safety Precautions
Acrylic embedment is a reasonably safe craft activity, but don't be careless. If you are making large-scale castings and using huge amounts of liquid plastic, provide plenty of ventilation. In nice weather, work near an open window or even shift the project to a screened-in porch. If your workshop is indoors, dust carefully; then set up a fan so that it moves a constant flow of fresh air through the work area. When you are making small embedments, no special precautions are needed.
Protect Sensitive Skin
If you tend to have allergic reactions, there's a chance you may get a rash from the chemicals used in this craft. Just a few precautions will help keep you free: Wear rubber gloves when handling the liquid plastic. Be careful not to spill any of the chemicals on your skin. If you do spill a chemical, a quick wash with warm water and detergent should forestall any reaction.
Clean Work Area
Plan to do most of the casting on a sturdy table covered with several layers of newspaper. When the work surface becomes messy, you can tidy up by removing the top layer. For a different reason, it is sound policy to mop the floor and vacuum dusty surfaces before you tackle any plastic-embedment project. Particles of debris drifting around in the air can settle into the wet plastic and become a permanent part of it. Most people think this fluff adds no beauty to a project. For the same reason develop the habit of covering the mold with a sheet of clear-plastic kitchen wrap while you are waiting for layers to harden.
Clean molds and measuring containers as soon as you have finished with them. The easiest way is to soak them in a tub of hot water with detergent. Even simpler is using disposable molds and containers.


It is important to establish a standard operating routine when you embed
plastic, because the work depends on precise chemical reactions. And
so here, in the form of a check list, is a step-by-step casting schedule.
Following instructions on the container, mix the exact quantities of
casting plastic and catalyst needed for the first layer. In combination,
these two will change the material from a thick liquid to a clear solid.
Add coloring agent and any other additives you wish.
Stir well. Use a sort of cutting action to mix casting plastic and
catalyst. The general idea is to combine them without introducing too
many air bubbles into the mixture.
Pour into mold to form the bottom or base layer of the plastic embedment.
Let set until plastic reaches the rubbery stage. Do not test it with
your finger, because the fingerprint would remain and be embedded. Instead,
poke it with a wooden stirring stick. The plastic is ready when it is
as firm as hardened gelatin and none of it sticks to the stirrer.
Carefully place the objects to be embedded on the base layer.
Mix casting plastic and catalyst for next poured layer. Pay special
attention to the instructions on the label, because the proportions of
catalyst to plastic change with succeeding layers. As the stratification builds
up, successive layers will absorb some heat from the lower segments, and
this will make them gel more quickly. For this reason, multi-layered
embedments are always cast in thin layers.
Continue mixing, pouring, embedding, and allowing to set, according
to the instructions for the plastic you are using.
Small embedments are beginning projects that allow a novice craftsman to perfect plastic-casting techniques before trying a more challenging project, such as combining paper and coins in an embedment.
Embedments 31 Embedments 32 Embedments
  31: A small casting will pop loose from the mold when the plastic has cooled. To test, rap it lightly with a stirring stick. If plastic clicks, it is ready.   32: Using a medium-grade file and a very gentle touch, smooth off rough or uneven spots that may appear on the casting despite all precautions.
Embedments 33 Embedments 34 Single-object cubes are generally easier to cast than the disk enclosing an assortment of stones. Metal objects often heat up too quickly and crack the plastic if it is not poured in thin layers.
33: Sand the plastic after it has been filed, to remove scratch marks. Use fine, abrasive paper placed grit side up on a flat surface. Sand lightly. 34: With a stitched flannel, buffing wheel, and plastic-buffing compound, restore surface sheen after smoothing the plastic. Begin with coarse; end with fine.


Embedments 35      Although the tools and materials required for plastic embedding are quite simple, it is important to take care of them if you want to use them for future projects. Treatment of molds is critical. Do not use steel wool, scouring powder, or any similar type of harsh abrasive on them. Once you have destroyed its smooth surface, you will never again get a smooth casting from a mold. This warning applies especially to soft-polyethylene molds, as these can be abraded with your fingernail. If they become scratched, toss them out and buy new ones.
     After a while, you may find that your embedment work seems to center around a few basic sizes or shapes of mold. Since molds are sometimes destroyed when they are being loosened from the casting, you may wish to build some heavy-duty, reusable ones. Make square-sided molds from wood with a hard-finish plastic-laminate bonded to the inner surfaces. The material used for counter tops is perfect for this job. Design the molds in breakaway form, so that you can remove the screws or other fasteners holding them together and can separate the sections. Used with mold release plus a well-buffed coating of paste wax, molds of this type encourage high-quality work and can be used again and again for years.
35: To make the eerie hand shown here, suspend a rubber glove by the cuff, and fill with layers of plastic and marbles. Such oddball projects make their own rules, and you have to play them by ear.
    Don't Embed Everything
Embedments 36 It is easy to be carried away by this craft activity because it produces such interesting objects. But keep this fact in mind: not everything can be embedded. The basic list of objects that cannot be successfully embedded in plastic includes anything that contains water or is too close to being alive-undried flowers, fresh bugs, and fish, for instance.
36: Unmold the hand by peeling off the rubber glove when the plastic has set and the glove feels cool to the touch. The glove can be used again if you want to cast another of these weird hands. For impact, it's hard to beat the shock value of this pop-art project. Simple to make, the unusual item would be a fine gift for a member of the teen-age set.


copyright ZELLERINTERNATIONAL 2000,2001,2002