Plastics - CNC Machining
A full-service source of machining plastics with CNC equipment can handle all types of plastics, including glass and carbon-filled formulations in varying thicknesses. When searching for a plastic machining source, the purchaser should look for a specialist in plastics processing because there are important differences between machining metal and plastic. An initial step is recognizing that plastic parts do not have to be molded. Typically, machining is a more economical means of producing plastic parts in lower quantities, and most molding resins are readily available in sheet, rod, and tube form. Tolerance levels in machining plastic are better than +/-0.001". Generally, the specifying engineer determines what plastic should be used along with the quantity of parts from prototypes to production.
CNC turning and milling are the primary operations. Sawing, drilling, routing, stamping, welding, bonding, polishing, screening and assembly are also essential to the production of machined plastic parts.
An experienced plastics machine shop will be more familiar with the proper tooling, workholding, and speeds and feeds required to properly machine plastics. In many cases a petroleum based coolant can be damaging to plastic materials; a competent plastics house will know the appropriate coolants to be used as well as the equipment to use air instead, as well as vacuums for dust control.
Criteria to use in selecting a Job Shop for your Plastic CNC Machining needs include: competency in resolving design problems, capabilities in handling quantities from prototypes to product runs, availability of standard and special tooling, the ability to do undercuts, and turn-around time. They should be capable of manufacturing complex plastic parts and assemblies for applications as diverse and demanding as aerospace, medical, electronics and commercial.
In addition to the following, virtually every plastic material can be machined, including glass filled and carbon filled materials:
- Glass Epoxy
- G-10 (FR4)
- Teflon® (TFE)
- Polyethylene/UHMW (Ultra-High Molecular Weight)
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