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Cutting and Drilling Plastics

Dynalab Corp custom plastic fabrication department machines products for use in laboratories, industry, education and even the home. No matter which technology you employ to cut your plastic with always remember that plastic cuts differently than wood or metal.

Drilling of Plastics
First and foremost, remember to clamp workpiece to an expendable board and drill through the material, right into the board. This will minimize "blow-out" from the backside. Practice a few times on some scrap. Plastics act differently than wood and metal.  Remember, drills only cut at the point, the flutes are for chip removal. Don't center-punch rigid plastics.

Drilling HDPE

Drilling a piece of HDPE Rod in our custom fabrication shop. Securely fixturing and/or holding down the workpiece is the key to successful drilling of plastics. Plastics tend to "run" up the drill bit if they get away from you.

Standard wood drills work fine for many plastics. Rigid plastics however may require a special bit. These bits are readily available at most hardware stores. Plastics drill bits generally have sharper points and less pitch, zero degree rake angle and flattened cutting edges. Plastics drill well at lower rpm's. Adjust your RPM and drilling pressure to produce a continuous spiralling chip climbing up each flute. Raise the bit frequently to expel chips and reduce heat. Don't melt the plastic as you will change the diameter of the hole. De-burring holes with a counterbore is recommended, this will help relieve the stress built up by the drilling operation and it looks nice. 

  Be careful…plastics tend to grab, and it's easy to lose control of a workpiece.

Always be conscious of your body placement in relation to the plastic being cut or drilled.

Table Saw Cutting PlasticSaws work well on most plastics. Circular, band, panel, and jig saws can all be fit with plastic cutting blades. We use primarily a 10" 60 tooth carbide tipped blade on the table saws with a "triple chip" configuration.

Sliding Vertical Panel SawSliding vertical panel saw shown above is an excellent choice for cutting standard 4 x 8' full sheets of plastic into a more manageable dimension.

Dynalab's band saws are fit with 5 to 8 teeth per inch on widths of 1/4" to 1". Push parts through the blade in such a fashion as to produce a chip not dust. Move fast enough to discourage melting.

Routers work very well for cutting profiles and preparing edges for gluing. Sharp cutting edges is key in the cutting of plastics. Carbide tips and edges are preferred.