Guide Beginner's Guide to Machining Plastics

Discussion in 'Modding' started by Captain Slug, 17 May 2005.

  1. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    I don't recommend using lasercutting for plastics. Most of the machine shops I've talked to that offer laser cutting simply won't do that kind of work with anything other than aluminum, steel, or titanium. It's also just not a cost effective method and in most cases takes more time to do correctly than it would with standard tools.

    Water-jet cutting on the other hand I have had done with plastics and you just have to keep the thickness tolerances in mind.

    I have extremely limited experience with Acetal, Delrin, and Nylon. I left them it out since they are considerably more expensive than the other materials listed. It's not something I felt I should include in a beginner's guide. You are correct in that they're ideal materials for load-bearing or frequent wear applications. Neither of which instances an entry-level machinist would presumably be capable of designing said parts.

    Also, Acrylic is equally as dangerous when it comes to fume production at certain temperature ranges. It also begins producing fumes at a lower temperature than polycarbonate. I don't recommend using flame polishing for either unless you have a serious filtration mask and a ventilated work area. As a standard it's best for most people to simply use sanding and polishing since the more "convenient" methods required exprienced hands and controlled environments in order to be safe.

    Nothing you mentioned are items I feel would be reasonable to include as recommendation for the entry-level machinist for safety and experience concerns so I have omitted them.
     
    Last edited: 15 Oct 2005
  2. kplonk

    kplonk New Member

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    Thanks for the info, nice to have all in one place
     
  3. r00t69

    r00t69 New Member

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    Thanks for the guide Captain Slug.

    I've often found and handheld carpenters plane is very good for finishing straight edges once you set the blade fairly shallow.
     
  4. Agent11345a

    Agent11345a New Member

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    I did a project where I chose to machine plexi with a CNC mill, be sure that if you use one of those you do an initial cut of about .025 inches down and then bring it down in about .125" each additional cut until it is done, takes a hell of a long time, but the result is well worth it.

    also bear in mind that the plexiglass needs to be put in place very securely (the tension put on the mill is very high)
     
  5. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    Added template making guide.
     
    Last edited: 3 Mar 2007
  6. Duste

    Duste Sierra my delta, bravo!

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    This is an insane guide, Captain Slug! I'll most definately be using it! :O
     
  7. Rage.

    Rage. New Member

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    simply fantastic.
    thx =]
     
  8. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    updated materials list and added small sections on milling, lathing, and lasercutting.
     
  9. trati629

    trati629 Can I Fix It? :$ Well Yes??

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    Another Glue to use for welding Acrylic ect..

    I like to use Tensol 70 for welding most plastic together
    available in the uk at
    RS: Componants
     
  10. mnpctech

    mnpctech bit-tech sponsor

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    Great Guide Captain Slug. Thanks for sharing :thumb:
     
  11. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    I'd like to add something here...
    If you have one, a tile wetsaw works great. The older the blade, the cleaner the edge. I have actually sliced my fingers on freshly cut plexiglas. I can vouch for polypropylene and acrylic.
    I can also say it WILL NOT work for Lexan... I tried to cut Lexan with a tile saw out of curiosity and ended up kicking a breaker.
     
  12. Sushi Warrior

    Sushi Warrior New Member

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    You sure mitre saws aren't usable with acrylic? I just cut a sheet of acryl with it and it worked fine.
     
  13. capnPedro

    capnPedro Hacker. Maker. Engineer.

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    Nice bump of a 4 year old thread (yeah, yeah 2 years since last reply...).

    A good cut is actually more dependant on the blade used, so if your mitre saw has a high TPI blade, well good for you, but most people use [compound] mitre saws for ripping wood.
     
  14. Sushi Warrior

    Sushi Warrior New Member

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    Oh damn, it was a sticky and I forgot to check the dates :blush: :blush: :blush:

    And I think the acrylic might of actually hurt the blade, it doesn't seem to cut as well anymore. Woopsies!
     
  15. Stuey

    Stuey You will be defenestrated!

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    I use a non-ferrous TCG blade for plastic sometimes.
     
  16. Shadow703793

    Shadow703793 New Member

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    Just a little request for update: Alibre Express is no longer available. The sire redirect to the trial for the normal Alibre.
    If you are a collage student (or know any one with a .edu email) you can grab many of Autodesk's tools, including Inventor, Maya, AutoCAD,etc for 15 months.

    Link: http://students5.autodesk.com/?nd=register&und=624
    =======
    Also, you can grab SolidWorks' Engineering Stimulus Package (basically 90 day Student version)
    here: http://www.solidworks.com/sw/esp/engineering_stimulus_package.html

    =======
    I realize that many here use SketchUp, but imo, SolidWorks and Inventor are much better (esp. for design work). As for rendering, SolidWorks and Inventor have quite a decent renderers built in.

    Note: On SolidWorks you can do quite decent renderings. Here is a personal example done by me in about 5-10 minutes:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/24351647@N07/3395904616/
     
  17. sejutaluka

    sejutaluka New Member

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    good info, request permission to bookmark this thread. thanks
     
  18. Stormwulf

    Stormwulf A mod to far?

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    Just seen this, nice guide but be cautious of gases given off.
    For example acetals give off formaldahyde gas so make sure you do it somewhere well ventillated or you'll end up with stingy eyes and a bad chest as the least of your problems.

    Also there is an ABS FR which is flame resistant and tolerates higher temps ( abs should be available in most any colour you can think of ).
     
  19. pistol_pete

    pistol_pete Air Cooled Fool

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    Just on the topic of jigsaws, you can get special blades for acrylic/perspex. I found these to be much better than the metal blades I had be using previously, they cut straight with ease and leave a finish which looks semi-polished.

    Bosch T101A are the blades I used.
     
  20. thegoody

    thegoody New Member

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    Great set of info there, will definitely come in handy! Cheers!
     
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