CNC machining is an essential tool for manufacturing in today’s industries. It provides precise and accurate cuts, repeatable results, and automated processes that cannot be achieved with traditional methods. Additionally, compared to manual machining, using CNC machines save time and resources by creating complex shapes that would be difficult to produce manually.
CNC machining is a highly versatile process that offers a range of benefits for mid-volume production runs, particularly when working with plastics and metals. Its ability to work with various materials — including plastics and metals — makes it a popular option for manufacturers in multiple industries.
In this article, we will look at the benefits of plastic CNC machining and the types of materials suitable for the process.
Benefits of Plastic CNC Machining
There are numerous benefits and advantages to utilizing CNC machining for plastic products. Some of the key reasons for using the process in plastic part manufacturing include the following:
While there may be methods that are cheaper initially than CNC machining, this process is ultimately the most cost-effective due to various factors. These include labor costs, delivery requirements, and the ability to produce consistent results. Consequently, even though other methods may appear more affordable initially, their additional costs can add up quickly.
Reduced Cycle Times
The technique’s precision and accuracy allow for efficient manufacturing processes, resulting in reduced lead times and faster product development. It can also help businesses meet their time-sensitive needs while maintaining high-quality standards.
Another benefit of using CNC machines for plastic parts manufacturing is the ability to achieve smooth finishes without additional deburring or finishing touches. This eliminates the need for extra labor and equipment and reduces production costs.
While injection or compression molding may be ideal for high-volume orders, the tooling cost associated with these methods can be prohibitively high for smaller production runs. For such cases, CNC machining can offer a better alternative for producing components with tighter tolerances. This tolerance level is especially critical in industries where strict regulations and quality standards must be met.
Types of Materials Suitable for Plastic CNC Machining
Many manufacturing operations prefer CNC machining since it works better with various plastic types than other processes. The following are some of the most popular polymers for modern plastic machining:
Also known as Cast Nylon or Nylon 6, PA is a type of engineering thermoplastic material manufactured through a casting process. It has improved strength, toughness, and wear resistance compared to extruded nylon materials.
PEEK is a high-performance thermoplastic that stands out for its diverse mechanical qualities. This material can withstand temperatures up to 260 °C (480 °F), liquids, wear, creep, and fatigue. It is also insoluble in all typical solvents, lightweight, and durable enough to withstand adverse climatic conditions.
Polyacetal Polyoxymethylene (POM)
POM is one of the most machinable CNC plastics and is most frequently referred to by its trade name, Delrin. It is a high-strength, high-stiffness plastic with exceptional heat, wear, weather, chemical, and fuel resistance.
Polycarbonate is well-known and frequently utilized in plastic manufacturing requirements. It has good electrical insulating qualities, is inherently heat-resistant, and is strong but lightweight. Furthermore, PC is more effective than other engineering thermoplastics.
Teflon, also known as PTFE, is a high-performance polymer with various mechanical attributes that make it useful for product teams developing commercial products. It is resistant to chemicals, temperature, light, UV, water, weathering, and fatigue.
Ultem is a semi-transparent, highly durable plastic that can function in high service temperatures. It can endure numerous cycles in a steam autoclave and is resistant to hot water and steam.
Advanced Industrial for Reliable Plastic CNC Machining
Advanced Industrial is a leading plastic fabricator and distributor in North Carolina! Our team of seasoned CNC machinists fabricates custom products for various industries and project requirements.
Contact us today to experience the best CNC plastic machining service! We look forward to working with your team.
Plastic Part Machining
Plastic is one of the most prevalent materials used in manufacturing due to its versatility, low cost, and durability. Some of the most common industries that rely on plastic machining are construction, medical, building, automation, and more. At Advanced Industrial, we specialize in producing high-quality plastic machined parts that can achieve the tightest tolerances suitable for even the most demanding industry standards.
What Is Plastic Part Machining?
Plastic part machining is a subtractive method whereby an end product is shaped and formed through the elimination of material layers. CNC machining is a rapidly growing technique that allows for greater precision and tighter tolerances in the finished product. There is a range of plastic machining methods, but the three most common techniques are as follows:
Drilling: Performed on both drills and lathes, drilling is the process of creating bores in a piece of material that is affixed to a surface by rotating the tool through the workpiece.
Milling: Milling consists of a cutting tool attached to a spindle that is raised and lowered into material attached to a sliding table. As the table moves, the cutting tool creates complex shapes.
Turning: In this machining process, a cutting tool is usually applied parallel to a working piece that is rotated continuously until the desired shape is achieved.
Plastic Part Machining Applications
Plastic machining is considered one of the best options in producing industrial parts and products. Plastic machined parts are applicable in the following industries:
- Automation: Plastic parts are preferred in different automation applications because they are lightweight and offer high friction resistance.
- Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Devices: Machined plastics are often used in medical devices because these materials can withstand exposure to sanitation processes. Machining is capable of producing precise, intricate parts required in these devices.
- Chemical Handling Equipment: Plastics are preferred in chemical handling equipment because plastics are inherently chemical-resistant.
- Food Handling Components: Machined plastic parts are preferred in food handling components such as assembly line parts because they are stain-, chemical-, and wear-resistant, increasing hygiene and shelf life.
- Laboratory and Scientific Equipment: Unlike metals, machine plastics aren’t prone to corrosion which can interfere with laboratory equipment.
- Microelectronics: Industries dealing with microelectronics use machined parts due to their heat-resistant qualities.
- Photonics: As manufacturing processes increase their optical capacity, demand for machined plastic parts also increases due to their optical properties.
- Semiconductor Components/Electronics: Plastic machined parts are applicable in the electronics and semiconductor processes and components such as wafer handling applications, CMP rings, wet process components, and more.
- Building and Construction: Plastic has insulation properties, reduces sound pollution levels, and is lighter than metal, making it a preferred material in construction.
- Transportation: Since plastic machined parts are moisture-resistant, they are used in various transportation areas, such as in light diffusers, interior wall panels, headliners, partitions, and more.
- Aerospace/Military: The aerospace industry is opting for machine plastic parts as a weight reduction strategy to cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Plastics serve as a more economical construction material over certain metals.
- Telecommunications: With the increased competition in the telecommunications sector, specialty plastics deliver faster, more reliable networks. This is because these plastics are highly resistant to corrosion and heat.
- Agriculture: Specialty plastics are used in various components in agriculture, such as greenhouse covers, wear pads, pipes, tubing, sheaves, gears, and more. Using machined plastic parts helps to minimize costly breakdowns and reduce fuel costs.
- Waste Treatment: Due to lower friction and superior wear surfaces on plastic machined parts, water treatment industries use them in sprockets, valves, rollers, drainage units, wear pads, catch basins, and connectors.
- Oil and Gas: Plastic machined parts are ideal in the oil and gas industries because their advanced properties help to increase reliability, minimize risks, and comply with industry standards.
Benefits of Plastic Part Machining
Plastic machined parts offer many advantages across a range of applications and industries. Some of the most obvious advantages include:
- Low Up-Front Costs: Plastics are much cheaper to produce and ship than metals. They are easy to maintain and repair, avoiding costly downtime.
- Time Efficiency: The machining process is quick, and it produces precise parts, reducing the amount of secondary processing required to correct product defects
- Reduced Material Waste: Because machining results in fewer mistakes, less material is wasted due to product defects.
- Easy Prototyping: Plastic machined parts are the best option to prototype quickly because molds are not required. Cycle times are shorter, making turnaround times faster.
- Tight Tolerances: CNC machining can achieve extremely tight tolerances that molding is not capable of attaining.
- Durability: Plastic is durable despite being lightweight and thin because it’s an excellent thermal insulator. Plastic offers higher functionality at lower weights than metals.
- Chemical Resistance: Plastics are chemical resistant, preventing them from producing hazardous chemical reactions. Therefore, plastics can last longer under tough conditions because they aren’t prone to chemical damages.
- Quality control: Machining gives you greater control over quality control throughout the production process while reducing handling charges and paperwork by performing production in-house.
Precision Machined Plastics at Advanced Industrial
Advanced Industrial is a leading manufacturer of quality machined plastic parts for a variety of industries such as agriculture, automation, and food handling components. We specialize in custom plastic spur gear, aesthetically appealing parts, wear components, plastic tubes, rods, sheets, and plates. Contact us today to learn more about our custom, high-performance plastics.