Plastic Routing Tool Selection for Finishing Acrylics
Plastic routing is one of the most important steps in the fabrication process for the sign industry and the point of sale industry; and these days acrylic is the plastic of choice for these products. The most commonly used plastic routing machines for acrylics are CNC routers, which can be found in shops that manufacture machines, medical equipment, valves and many other important products. All these industries are very different, but they all require router bits that will ensure a premium finished edge on their acrylic products without having to waste time on additional finishing after the routing is done.
Whether we’re talking about acrylic, metal or composite routing, the manufacturers will want tools that are going to provide a fine finish the first time around. When we’re talking about acrylic plastic routing, though, it is necessary to consider four factors that affect the quality of the finished edge more than anything else. The tooling (the choice of router bits themselves), the programming, the machine’s condition and the fixturing will all greatly affect the quality of the cut edge at the end of the day.
The first and foremost consideration for the plastic routing process is the tooling. The type of router bits will greatly affect the finished product, and there are different bits that are more appropriate for different jobs. The diameter of the router bits typically falls somewhere around an eighth of an inch, but in many cases it can be greatly beneficial to design the parts, fixtures, and programs for three eighths of an inch. This can enhance the surface finish, increase the feed rate, and improve the chip extraction capabilities.
People often think smaller is better when it comes to plastic routing tools, but larger diameter bits can actually offer greater stability and flute depth. Increasing the diameter to any more than three eighths of an inch has been found to be ineffective, though. For acrylic products, the three eighths rule seems to be a good tooling formula.