If you’re considering plastics for your shop, you have several things to think about. For example, do you have the right equipment and tools for CNC plastic machining? Is it really a better choice over stainless steel, aluminum, or carbon steel? Let’s look at some important features of machining plastics to help you make an informed decision.
Plastics Are Much Different Than Metals
Before you decide on CNC plastic machining, it’s important to take several factors into consideration. For example:
* Metals are made from one material. However, plastics are often manufactured from several different materials.
* Metals have specific melting points, and the same is not true for plastics. In fact, melting points can vary a great deal.
* Plastics expand during the process of machining. This expansion can be as much as 500 percent.
Some plastics easily chip and melt when you machine them.
Can Plastics Replace Metals?
In some cases, you can substitute plastic materials for stainless steel, bronze, and even cast iron. Plastics can give you the following advantages:
* Weight – on average, plastics are much lighter than most metals, even aluminum.
* Corrosion resistance- plastics cannot corrode or rust.
* Insulation – some plastic materials can insulate from heat and electricity.
* Wear – some plastic parts offer excellent wearing properties.
Choosing the Right Plastic Materials
When you work with plastics, you can choose either thermoplastic or thermoset plastics.
Thermoset materials don’t melt. However, this property comes with a cost because they’re easy to chip. Names include phenolic materials, melamine, and epoxy.
Thermoplastic materials are the best choices for machining. You can melt and re-melt them and still use them. This includes materials like PVC, polyethylene, ABS, and Teflon.
If your shop isn’t set up for plastics, choose a machine shop known for its high-quality CNC plastic machining services.