Plastic routing is a very specific job that requires the best machinery and a high attention to detail in order to produce the right type of finish on the cut edge. The cutting tools used are perhaps the most important consideration, because even the steadiest hand on the most skilled individual cannot compensate for a poor quality tool. The same could be said of metal cutting router bits or any other type of tool – it’s pretty much impossible to get a high quality finished product from a low quality machine.
The first thing to consider in the selection of cutting tools is the diameter, which is typically in the 1/8 inch to 3/8 inch range. It is often preferable to choose plastic routers bits that are slightly larger in diameter, though, because it can dramatically improve surface finishes and consistency from one job to the next. Plastic routing jobs can be achieved with a high level of accuracy, a more stable work surface, an increased feed rate and better chip extraction just by increasing the diameter by 1/8 inch.
The configuration of the cutting tools is also important, especially when it is necessary to use a bit with a smaller diameter. In this case, plastic routers bits with a spiral configuration will yield the most optimal edge finish. When using cutting tools with larger diameters, however, low helix multi-fluted tools will usually yield the best results with some variations depending on the manufacturing method of the plastic. V-flute and O-flute have also been shown to work well in plastic routing when the bits are required to have a larger diameter.
Whether you’re using metal cutting router bits or if you’re routing plastic, there are a great number of specialized tools available. Depending on the type of finish desired, such as a smooth bottom surface without the swirling effects of standard router bit points or a radiused edge on parts, there are high quality cutting tools to do that exact job right.