Plastic Machining Solutions and Considerations
The process of plastic machining is quite a bit different from other materials such as wood, metal or composites. Plastic routing is different, for starters, because plastics vary in abrasiveness and consistency and one type of tool will definitely not fit all. The same can be said of woods, since different trees offer different consistencies of wood, but plastic actually comes in many more varieties than anything that comes from nature. Some plastic machining projects use soft thermoplastics and others use abrasive reinforced thermosets, for example, which all have unique physical properties that require unique geometry.
There are many other considerations to make in regards to plastic routing and drilling, such as when you want to create a better finish on the cut part. The important thing is to use plastic drill bits made of solid carbide that have specific geometries for the materials at hand. For soft plastics, you’ll want to use plastic drill bits such as use single edge solid carbide straight or spiral plastic O flute tools. For rigid plastics, however, plastic drill bits such as double edge solid carbide straight or spiral standard or O flute plastic geometry tools will work better. You’ll also want to vary the feed rates and spindle speed on the plastic routing machine.
Another common problem with plastic routing is small parts moving when cutting from vacuum drawn sheet goods. In order to avoid this problem, you’ll want to reduce the cutter diameter to the same thickness as the material and use straight or slow helix downcut O flute solid carbide plastic drill bits. Another common problem with plastic routing and drilling is a poor finish on plastic window and door parts cut. A good solution for this is using single or double edges solid carbide straight O flute tools instead of the recommended high-speed steel spirals.
When it comes to plastic machining, it’s important to remember that these materials have their own unique characteristics that require different tools.