Plastic CNC Turning

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Discover Excelite plastic CNC turning. Improve the aesthetics and durability of your plastic sheets with this finishing process.

CNC Machining Turning On Plastic

CNC turning on plastic involves using a CNC lathe to precisely remove material and achieve the desired shape. This process is well-suited for creating rotationally symmetric parts such as polycarbonate or acrylic screw threads and shafts .
CNC turning can be performed in various forms, including

  • Straight or cylindrical turning, which is ideal for large cuts
  • Taper CNC turning, which is suitable for creating parts with cone-like shapes .

Types Of Machinable CNC Plastic Material

  • Polycarbonate (PC)

    Polycarbonate is a versatile and durable thermoplastic known for its high impact resistance, transparency, and heat resistance properties. When used in CNC turning processes, polycarbonate allows for precise shaping, threading, and finishing of components. Its excellent dimensional stability and resistance to heat and chemicals make it suitable for creating intricate parts, prototypes, and components in various industries such as electronics, automotive, and medical.
  • Acrylic (PMMA)

    Acrylic, on the other hand, offers superior optical clarity and light transmission compared to polycarbonate. It is lighter in weight and can be colored or tinted for aesthetic purposes.
    Due to its impact resistance and heat tolerance, polycarbonate is often preferred for applications requiring toughness and durability, such as protective covers, safety shields, and impact-resistant components. Acrylic’s optical clarity and colorful options make it a popular choice for applications where transparency, aesthetics, such as signage, displays, lighting fixtures, and decorative items.
  • And we also can use polyethylene (PE), polypropylene(PP), nylon…etc.
electronics CNC machining components

What Are The Key Considerations In Plastic CNC Turning?

  • Material Selection:Different plastics have varying machinability, strength, weight, and other properties that affect the machining process. For instance, materials like acrylic and polypropylene are highly machinable, while PVC and nylon can be more challenging .

  • Cutting Conditions: Proper cutting conditions are essential to avoid issues such as melting, chipping, or warping. This includes maintaining appropriate spindle speeds, feeds, and depths of cut . Additionally, using fine C-2 grade carbide inserts and ensuring cutting edges have negative back rake and generous relief angles can help minimize rubbing and improve surface finish .
  • Tooling: The tools used for CNC turning must be precise and uniform to achieve the desired precision and quality. High-quality diamond and diamond-coated cutting tools are recommended for successful machining operations .
  • Surface Finishing: Polishing top surfaces and ensuring cutting edges lead to better surface finishes .
  • Thermal Management: Managing heat generation is critical during CNC turning of plastics to prevent deformation and other thermal-related issues .
  • Workpiece Handling: Proper handling techniques are necessary to avoid breakage and marks on the surface. Using soft materials between fixtures and parts can help protect the surface during clamping .
  • Machine Type: Depending on the complexity of the part design and precision requirements, different types of CNC machines (e.g. , 3-axis, 4-axis, or 5-axis) may be used for turning operations .

Advantages Of Using CNC Turning For Plastic Parts

  • Precision and Accuracy: CNC turning is renowned for its ability to produce parts with high precision and tight tolerances. This is crucial for plastic parts where exact dimensions can significantly impact the functionality and quality of the final product.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: CNC turning compared to some other methods like injection molding, it tends to be more cost-effective for small to medium runs due to reduced waste and efficient production processes
  • Flexibility in Design: CNC turning allows for the production of complex shapes and geometries that might be difficult or impossible to achieve with other manufacturing methods .
  • Customization: CNC turning offers the flexibility to customize parts based on specific design requirements. This is especially beneficial in industries where products need to be tailored to meet unique customer needs or market demands .
acrylic component cnc machining

Common Applications

  • Aerospace Plastic Components: CNC turning is ideal for producing high-quality, precision-made plastic parts such as instrument panels, control knobs, and aircraft engine components.
  • Medical Devices: The high precision of CNC turning makes it suitable for fabricating components.
  • Consumer Products: Plastics machined through CNC turning are used in a wide range of consumer products, including electronics housing, sports equipment, food processors, and control panels.
  • Automotive Industry: CNC turning is used to produce parts like dashboard structures and lighting components due to its ability to achieve tight tolerances .
Grinding, Lapping or Polishing
aerospace plastic component

Why Work With Us

With over 15 years of polycarbonate fabrication and machining experience, Excelite specializes in the fabrication of polycarbonate and acrylic sheet products, ensuring top-notch quality and precision. We are committed to providing the best manufacturing solutions tailored to your unique requirements. 

Whether you have a detailed drawing or just an idea, our team of professionals is ready to turn your vision into reality. Enjoy the benefits of our services, including:

  • In-house Design & Tooling
  • Exceptional Accuracy (+/- 0.005″ Tolerances)
  • Comprehensive OEM & ODM Services
  • ISO 9001:2008 Certification
  • Direct Manufacturer Advantage

We invite you to partner with us and experience a seamless, efficient, and quality-driven production process.

Polish Finish for Acrylic

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Bring Your Ideas to Life with Excelite Plastics. 

Custom Polycarbonate Solutions Tailored for You. 

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