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Programming Tips for Plastic Routing


When it comes to plastic routing, programming the machines correctly is the only way to ensure that those tools work for you. Poor programming can lead to a poor finish on the cut edge, which will simply require you to go over it again. And if you know anything about composite routers, metal boring drill bits or wood auger drill bits, throw it out the window. Plastic routing is a different ball game.

Although most people consider the feed and speed when they are programming their plastic routing tools, it is also very important to pay close attention to the cutting methods. In some cases, the best method is to program the router bits with conventional cutting methods, while in other cases it is best to program them with climb cutting methods. It is important to remember, however, that router bits of larger diameters almost always do better with the cut mode, while smaller diameters depend on a number of factors so it’s a good idea to test out a few options to figure what’s best. 

Other important things to consider with plastic routing are finish passes, entry points and depths of cut. It’s those router bits with smaller diameters that tend to require finish passes, which can often present problems when it comes to deciding how much material to remove. Numerous programmers and operators that have experience with metal boring drill bits have a hard time grasping this concept for CNC routing machines, because it differs from their experience. Most router bits will not have enough material to bite into without at least .015" to .030" of plastic material such as acrylic.

Entry points must also be considered during the plastic routing process, including their tendency to craze and the lack of a centering point. Depths of cut are also important considerations. Every cutting job will be different, but a favorite programming method is to use multiple depths of cut and take a final clean-up pass of .015" for the entire material thickness. For more detailed information, the router bits manufacturers should be able to offer some recommendations.


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