Rapid Prototyping Services & Part Manufacturing

CNC Acrylic: A Complete Guide

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Henry

15 years of experience in prototyping and manufacturing.

CNC Acrylic machining is a common method in all the processes of machining acrylic, but do you know how CNC acrylic works? today, In this article, we’ll provide a guide to understand everything about CNC acrylic including machines, best settings, best bits, and tips. This will help you create an acrylic product, especially for the beginner of CNC machining operation.

What is CNC Acrylic?

CNC Acrylic refers to machine acrylic block on a CNC machine. the acrylic block is cut or engraved by a CNC bit to form the designed shape of the final product. It also refers to cutting Acrylic by CNC router, CNC mills, and CNC lathes.

CNC Machines for CNC acrylic

There are different kinds of CNC machines to cut or engrave acrylic in the market based on the complexity of the products and the precision level of the product. here we introduce the three main CNC machines for machining acrylic.

CNC router

A CNC router is a computer-controlled machine to carves out complex shapes from soft materials like wood, plastic, and expanded foam. It is the most common machine used for CNC acrylic because it can cut acrylic fast and offer fast reproduction. it is widely used for creating large-format items like Acrylic signs and stands. However, CNC routers only work for low-precision acrylic machining due to their stationary workpiece design.

CNC Router

CNC milling machine

A CNC milling machine works with a round rotating tool that cuts into a block of material. it uses computer code called “G code” to understand where to make cuts. it can be used for creating high-precision acrylic products such as optic parts of automotive lighting prototype. Not like CNC routers only work for soft materials, and CNC Milling machines also work for hard and strong materials such as steel, and aluminum.

CNC milling machine

CNC laser cutting machine

Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) Laser cutting machines use a focused high-power laser beam to cut the block of material and get the desired shapes of the product. They are specially used to cut acrylic products with high precision details with a very clean cut. However, it only works for thin acrylic blocks(less than 20mm) and is commonly used for making markings on acrylic products.

Steps for CNC machining Acrylic

Step 1: CAD design for the acrylic product

The first step is to design the product in CAD software for the CNC machining process, Limitations of the CNC machining process need to be considered during the design. or it will not be feasible for CNC machining due to the stoke of cutters.

Step 2: Prepare the block of acrylic material

A block of acrylic material with a proper size needs to be prepared in this step, the size of the block needs to be 100mm larger than the acrylic product so that the rest of the materials can be removed from the block by CNC machining.

Step 3: Secure the acrylic block

Clamp or glue the acrylic block on the machine table plate to fix it securely to prevent movement during machining, which could lead to inaccuracies.

Step 4: Set up the CNC machine and bit

In this step, Choose the Right bit and then set the proper parameters such as spindle speed, feed rate, and depth of cut for machining acrylic.

Step 5: CAM programming

Transfer the CAD data into G-code which can be read by CNC machines to control the movements and path of the CNC bit.

Step 6: Machining the Acrylic block

Start the CNC machine and let it follow the programmed path to cut the acrylic material into the desired shape and size.

What is the best CNC bit for acrylic?

Based on our experience, a 1/4-inch solid carbide O-Flute End Mill Bits is the best for CNC machining Acrylic. this is because they are specifically designed for acrylic cutting and drilling. it can effectively pull out the chips as the cutting occurs and prevent plastic chips from building up inside the curve of the cut.

What are the best CNC settings for acrylic?

Up on the requirement and complexity of the acrylic product, different settings may be needed for each case. but here we summarize the general settings for machining acrylic as below, you can take it as a reference to make your acrylic part.

  • Feed Rate:  Generally between 75-300 IPM. 
  • RPM: Use at least 18,000 RPM
  • Cutting depth: Set as 1/2 of the diameter of the bit
  • Ramping: set a ramp around 1-3 inches for each tool path

Tips for CNC Acrylic

  • Casted acrylic sheet is more easy to cut through than extruded acrylic
  • Keep The Acrylic Cool during machining with oil around the bit.
  • listen to the sound of the cut, you can tell if the spindle works well or not.

CNC Machining Acrylic Parts with KUSLA

CNC acrylic is not an easy task to do and requires professionality. KUSLA, as the top rapid prototyping company in China, has multiple CNC prototyping acrylic capabilities to provide high-quality standard acrylic products as you need. Contact us if you need to know more about CNC acrylic.

FAQs

What is best for cutting acrylic?

There are other ways to cut acrylic besides CNC cutting such as Scoring Knife, jigsaw, table saw, and circular saw. Generally speaking, a Circular saw is the best for cutting acrylic because it can used both for thin and thick acrylic sheets with simple operation.

How to secure acrylic on CNC?

Besides the clamp, using some strips of double-sided tape on the back side could help secure the acrylic on CNC.

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Request A Quote

Get in touch with our professional team today, and we will respond to you within 24 hours.

Employees of Kusla.

Gang Liu

Marketing Director

Employees of Kusla.

Hua Liu

Project Manager

Employees of Kusla.

Yiyang Zhao

Project Manager

Employees of Kusla.

Lu Wang

Technical Sales

Employees of Kusla.

Anming Li

Technical Sales

Employees of Kusla.

Xiaoli Wu

Technical Sales

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