Vacuum Considerations for Plastic Machining
Plastic machining requires many different routine maintenance operations that a machine shop may be unfamiliar with if they are used to working with materials such as wood and metal. The vacuum systems are very important to maintain in order to have a consistent plastic machining process that results in a quality finished product every time. Machines that use wood router bits or metal drill bits are similar, but many plastic sheet parts and/or thermoformed parts are harder to hold due to their size, shape and lighter weight.
Plastic machining shops must evaluate their vacuum systems for their ability to hold small or thin parts. When a plastic machining shop takes the necessary steps to increase their amount of usable vacuum, they can reduce the amount of time spent on custom fixtures and typically achieve higher feed rates with better cycle times. While the vacuums for machines shops that use wood router bits or metal drill bits also need to be maintained, it becomes even more important for the fabrication of plastics. The flow through systems should have a pump size of 800cfm or greater for a 4x8 table, a lightweight spoil board, and a porous MDF with a reasonable thickness and sealed edges.
Another factor to consider with the plastic machining vacuum systems is the supply lines, which should be evaluates for diameter and quantity. Flow through systems, whether they are for plastic router bits, metal drill bits or wood router bits, benefit greatly from multiple large diameter supplies. It’s a good idea to use two or more 4” or larger supplies for each table. Dedicated plastic machining systems should also be evaluated for pump size, spoil board and supply lines to meet manufacturer’s specifications.
The vacuum system may seem like an easy thing to overlook, but if it is not performing properly the fabricated plastic products produced in these machines can easily be compromised. enough to leave the perfectly measured cut every time whether they are used for carbon fiber, carbon graphite or any other materials.