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Machining Acrylic: Exploring all Processes

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Henry

15 years of experience in prototyping and manufacturing.

Machining acrylic -CNC machining

Acrylic is a very common plastic material you can find in many industry such as signage, box, jewellery, green house, lens and many more. its lightweight, shatter-resistant and hign transparency make it popular in an array of applications. However, do you know how these product are produced? How to machine the acylic? In this article, we will explore all the processes about machining acrylic.

Is Acrylic Easy to Machine?

Yes, acrylic is easy to machine and can be machined with different mothods and tools such as cutting, bending, milling, turning and more. Cast acrylic is generally more easier to be machined than extruded acrylic becasue Casting creates less internal stresses, so cast acrylic is less brittle than extruded acrylic.

Machining Acrylic pellets

When we talk about machining acylic, actually there are two meaning. one is machining acrylic pellets material and one is machining acrylic sheet or block. this is becasue some of machining process is working on acrylic sheet material.

Extrude Acrylic

Acrylic sheets are made by acrylic extrusion which is a process that acrylic pellets material is pushed through a tool or die with specialized shape. and then these extruded acrylic sheet can be used for second machining to create the final parts. some of acrylic products with a fixed cross sectional profile are also can be produced by this extrusion process, such as acrylic tubes, rods, films, etc.

Extrude plastic process

Cast Acrylic

Acrylic sheets can also be made by casting. this process invloves pouring the molten Acrylic pellets material into a mold, and cure for a few hours until it becomes semi-solid status and then remove it from the mold, use heat and pressure to force air bubbles out of the acrylic sheet. these cast acrylic sheet can aslo be used for second machining to create the final parts. As explained before, cast Acrylic sheet is generally more easier to be machined than extruded acrylic.

Injection molding Acrylic

Injection molding acrylic is a very common method to create large-scale acrylic products when the product shape is complex. this process use injection machine to inject molten acrylic pellets material into a mold with high pressure, then the acrylic material cool and cure in the mold to form the final product. it create acrylic products direclty from the acrylic pellets.

Injection molding plastic

Machining Acrylic Sheets/block

Raw acrylic sheets are typically manufactured in standard sizes and shapes. To create final acrylic parts, other processes as below need to be used to machine acylic sheet.

Cut Acrylic sheet

Cutting acylic to size as you need according to your product size, there are mainly four methods to cut the acylic sheets.

  • Score Acrylic sheet: Score the acrylic with a plastic scoring blade manually for a thin sheet.
  • Saw cut Acrylic sheet: you can use table saw, jigsaw, circular saw to cut thick acrylic sheeet.
  • CNC router cutting Acrylic: Use a CNC router, you can get a more presiced dimension.
  • Laser Cutting Acrylic: Use laser beam to cut thin acrylic sheets when very high precision details are required.

Bending Acrylic sheet

Some products such as sinage, stand are made by bending acrylic. Acrylic sheet can be bent by heating when heating to 160 degrees Celsius without discoloring the material. there are several way to bend acrylic sheet.

  • Bending Acrylic sheet With Heat Gun at home
  • Bending acrylic sheet with a hairdryer at home
  • Bending acrylic sheet with a bending machine(acrylic bender) to make a line bending

CNC Acrylic sheet

CNC acrylic sheet is widely used for CNC prototyping to make acrylic prototypes. CNC machining provide high precision and high quality as the injection molding parts, it can leverage the material’s unique properties, such as its clarity, UV stability, and impact resistance. there are different CNC machining process can be used for Acrylic sheet.

CNC milling Acrylic

One CNC process to shape acrylic sheets is to mill it. Milling is a process of removing material from the surface of the plastic sheet with high speed rotated cutting tools. CNC milling acrylic create acrylic parts with complex shaple such as optic light guide in automotive lighting.

CNC truning Acrylic

CNC turning acrylic use of a lathe where the acrylic block is rotated while a cutting tool is fed into it to remove the material. this process can produce cylindrical acrylic parts.

CNC drilling Acrylic

To drill holes in acrylic sheets, you also can use CNC drilling with a drill bit with a diameter remove the material of the hole.

Single Point Diamond turning Acrylic

If you really need a mirror finish on the acrylic with super high precision, a Diamond cutting machine is your best bet as video show, read more about KUSLA Single Point Diamond turning service.

Thermoforming Acrylic

Thermoforming Acrylic is mainly used as a packaging for consumer and large customized products such as acrylic tray, Acrylic box. It refers to the process of heating thin acrylic sheet material until it reaches a pliable temperature, then push the acrylic sheet into a mold to form product shape. there are three kind of thermoforming acrylic process.

Thermoforming plastic

Drape Forming Acrylic

This process uses Clamp to force the sheet against the mold, then push the acrylic sheet to mold. When Acrylic sheet touches the mold , it will cool and then cease to stretch.

Pressure Forming Acrylic

This prcess use air pressure from the top to form the acrylic sheet into a finely detailed molded shape. A pressure box is added to the tooling package.

Vaccum forming Acrylic

In this process, the parts are formed by the pressure of vacuum space bettwen the mold and acrylic sheet it is widely used in creating numerous types of props and costume accessories.

Surface finishing on Acrylic Parts

Polishing Acrylic

Once after machining by CNC acrylic, Polishing is needed because cutting tool will leave marks on the acrylic parts. Polishing will helps remove any rough edges or scratches left. there are several polishing methods for acrylic parts.

  • Hand polishing: use polishing paste and cotton cloth to work on acrylic parts manually.
  • buffing wheel polishing: Use Cloth buffing wheel and wax which is Great for DIY or at home projects
  • Flame polishing: utilizes a fine high-temperature flame which is based on hydrogen to polish acrylic.
  • Diamond polishing: A specialty tooling is utilized to provide a polished finish using a direct machine polishing.

Laser Engraving on Acrylic

Laser engraving on acrylic is commonly used for acrylic signs, innovative LED light displays, and unique ornaments with details on their surfaces. it use CO2 lasers to burn and vaporize the the needed area on the surface of acylic to form the details.

Screen printing on Acrylic

Screen printing on Acrylic is a process to create marking or pattern on the surface of acrylic part. it invloves pushing ink through a mesh screen and onto an acrylic sheet, using a squeegee to fill the open apertures. After being exposed to UV light, the ink will dry and form the pattern.  

Spray Painting and Dyeing Acrylic

Spray Painting and Dyeing Acrylic are used to add color to acrylic parts. Spray painting use spray guns with air pressure to disperse into uniform and fine droplets and apply the painting to the surface of the object. Dyeing acrylic use a solution with dye and water to soak the acylic part to leave the dye on the surface of acylic part.

Coating acrylic

This process is used to strength acrylic product performance with special type of coatings such as UV coating, hard coating, anti-mist coating.

Conclusion

Machining acrylic is necessary if you want to create custom shapes and get the desired finish on your plastic products. it requires machines and skills, KUSLA is a one-stop manufacturing company who can help you with our acrylic machining Service.

FAQs

Can I cut acrylic myself?

Yes, with a plastic scoring blade and circular jaw, you can cut it at home with the right operations.

What machine do you use to cut acrylic?

A CNC router or a lase cut machine can be used to cut acrylic.

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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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