Tips for Better Plastic Machining

Not long ago, if you asked about machining plastic parts in Minneapolis, many machine shops would have no idea what you were talking about. In fact, until plastics made major advancements over the years, it was not economical or feasible to attempt machining. However, all that has changed, and it’s now possible to work with plastics if you have the right equipment, experience, and knowledge. Here are some helpful tips to get you started.

Facts to Remember

Before you start machining plastic parts in Minneapolis, it’s important to remember these facts:

 * Plastics retain heat longer than metals. You must be careful about overheating.

 * Thermal expansion is greater than metals. In fact, it can be ten times greater with some plastics.

 * It doesn’t take a lot of heat to soften plastics and make it very difficult to work with.

 * Cutting plastic is different from metal because it has greater elastic properties.

Cutting Tools

It’s important to use very sharp cutting tools for plastics. The sharper the tools, the quicker you can machine and the fewer chances you have for heat buildup. Some shops use carbide tools, but if you do a lot of machining plastic parts in Minneapolis, you may want to invest in diamond tipped tools. They’ll last longer and stay sharp longer too.

Chip Buildup

Cutting chips can easily build up with plastics. In fact, they build up easier than soft metals like aluminum alloys. You need to adjust your machines to allow for as much chip clearance as possible. This helps to prevent clogging that can ruin your work.


You may not need coolant for most jobs, but in some cases, it’s highly recommended. For some kinds of drilling and thread cutting, you may need coolant, so use a product that is water-soluble. If you use an oil-based coolant, you could crack some plastics.

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