Online Manufacturing for Metal parts and Plastic Parts, XTJ Precision Mfg Ltd

Mobile: +86 17704021786

What Are The Steps To CNC Machining Acrylic?

Acrylic CNC machining

What are the steps to CNC machining Acrylic?

CNC machining acrylic is a process that transforms a simple acrylic sheet into a complex, precision part or product.

The CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining process for acrylic involves several key steps, each important to achieving the desired outcome with the highest quality.

Here’s an overview of the stages involved:

Design and CAD Modeling: Initially, the concept is visualized and then designed using CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software. This digital model is the blueprint for the machining process.
Selecting the Acrylic Material: There’s a choice between cast and extruded acrylic, each with unique properties that affect the machining process and the final product.
Preparing the CNC Machine: This involves setting up the machine, including calibration and ensuring all components are functioning correctly.
Tool Selection: Selecting the right cutting tools is crucial to prevent damage to the acrylic and achieve a high-quality finish.
Securing the Acrylic: The material must be clamped securely to prevent movement during machining, which could lead to inaccuracies.
Setting Machining Parameters: Parameters such as spindle speed, feed rate, and depth of cut must be adjusted specifically for acrylic to ensure optimal machining conditions.
CAM Programming: The CAD model is translated into G-code, the machine language that controls the CNC machine’s movements.
Running a Test Cut (Optional): A preliminary test cut can help identify any potential issues before the final machining process begins.
Machining the Part: The machine follows the programmed path to cut the acrylic material into the desired shape and size.
What are the different CNC machining operations suitable for acrylic?
CNC machining operations tailored for acrylic leverage the material’s unique properties, such as its clarity, UV stability, and impact resistance. These operations are designed to maximize the potential of acrylic in various applications, ensuring that the end products meet the required precision and quality standards.

Acrylic’s versatility makes it an ideal candidate for a range of CNC machining processes, each chosen based on the specific needs of the project.

CNC Milling Acrylic
CNC milling is a highly adaptable operation suitable for acrylic machining, capable of producing intricate details and smooth finishes. This process involves the removal of acrylic material using a rotating cutting tool, allowing for the creation of complex three-dimensional shapes.

Technical Suitability for Acrylic: The non-contact nature of CNC milling minimizes the risk of cracking or melting the acrylic, which could occur with less precise machining methods. The control over the milling machine’s speed, feed rate, and depth of cut allows for adjustments to be made specifically for the acrylic’s properties, ensuring a high-quality surface finish and reducing the need for post-processing.
Applications: From prototype development to the production of finished parts, CNC milling serves a wide range of applications in industries such as automotive, aerospace, and medical devices. This versatility is particularly beneficial for creating components with tight tolerances or intricate designs, such as lenses for car lights, transparent covers for medical devices, and decorative items.
CNC Turning Acrylic
CNC turning of acrylic involves the use of a lathe where the acrylic material is rotated while a cutting tool is fed into it, producing cylindrical parts with precise dimensions and a smooth finish.

Technical Suitability for Acrylic: This operation is particularly effective for acrylic due to its ability to produce rounded components with high dimensional accuracy. The controlled environment of CNC turning minimizes material stress, preserving the acrylic’s optical properties and preventing warping or distortion.
Applications: CNC turning is commonly used to manufacture acrylic parts that require symmetrical shapes, such as tubes, rods, and circular components used in lighting fixtures, architectural elements, and consumer electronics. The process ensures uniformity and consistency, essential for components that must fit together precisely in assembly.
CNC Drilling Acrylic
CNC drilling is a precise method to create holes in acrylic materials, ranging from simple, straight-through holes to more complex, angled entrances and exits.

Technical Suitability for Acrylic: The precision of CNC drilling allows for the creation of clean, burr-free holes without causing cracks or other damages to the acrylic. By adjusting drilling parameters such as speed and feed rate, it’s possible to achieve optimal results while maintaining the integrity of the acrylic material.
Applications: This operation is crucial for parts that require mounting or assembly, including displays, fixtures, and enclosures in various industries. The ability to drill holes with high precision is vital for the assembly of complex acrylic structures, ensuring that components fit perfectly without additional modifications.
CNC Engraving Acrylic
CNC engraving on acrylic offers the ability to etch detailed graphics, text, and patterns into the surface of the material, adding aesthetic or functional features to the part.

Technical Suitability for Acrylic: Engraving on acrylic with CNC technology provides unparalleled control over depth and detail, allowing for intricate designs that are not feasible with manual processes. The process is gentle enough to avoid cracking the acrylic while being powerful enough to produce clear, visible markings.
Applications: CNC engraved acrylic is widely used in signage, award plaques, and decorative panels, where precision and clarity are paramount. The technique also finds applications in industrial labeling and branding, where durability and legibility of the engraved marks are critical.
CNC Cutting Acrylic
CNC cutting provides a precise and efficient method for shaping acrylic sheets into desired dimensions and forms. This process involves using a CNC router or mill to cut through the acrylic material, following a predefined path or design.

Technical Description and Suitability: The precision of CNC cutting allows for intricate designs and sharp, clean edges on acrylic parts. The non-contact nature of the cutting tools minimizes the risk of physical stress, reducing the likelihood of cracking or chipping the material. This operation is particularly suitable for acrylic due to its ability to produce smooth surfaces that require minimal post-processing. Applications range from creating complex shapes for architectural models to detailed parts for electronic devices.
CNC Laser Cutting Acrylic
CNC laser cutting stands out for its ability to deliver high precision and detail when working with acrylic materials. It uses a focused laser beam to melt, burn, or vaporize the acrylic, allowing for intricate cuts and engravings.

Technical Description and Suitability: Laser cutting is ideal for acrylic because of its clean, flame-polished edges, which eliminate the need for additional finishing processes. The method is highly accurate, enabling the creation of complex designs without physical contact with the material, thereby preventing mechanical stress and ensuring the acrylic’s integrity. It’s widely used in signage, decorative items, and components where precision and aesthetic quality are paramount.
CNC Laser Engraving Acrylic
CNC laser engraving offers a unique capability to etch detailed designs, text, or images onto the surface of acrylic materials. Unlike cutting, engraving focuses on modifying the surface appearance rather than cutting through the material.

Technical Description and Suitability: Laser engraving on acrylic produces a frosted, white appearance in the engraved areas, offering excellent contrast against the clear material. This process is suitable for acrylic due to its precision and the ability to achieve high detail without damaging the material’s surface. Applications include branding, decorative etching, and creating tactile interfaces on acrylic components.

Material Properties of Acrylic (PMMA) for CNC Machining

Now that we know the advantages of Acrylic for CNC machining operations and projects, let’s get into more specific data on its material, physical and chemical properties:

  1. Density: 1.18 g/cm³ – This influences the weight of the finished product and affects machining parameters like feed rate and speed.
  2. Tensile Strength: 70 MPa (10,153 psi) – A measure of the maximum stress acrylic can withstand while being stretched or pulled before breaking.
  3. Flexural Strength: 115 MPa (16,687 psi) – Indicates the amount of bending stress acrylic can endure without deformation.
  4. Compressive Strength: Around 90 MPa (13,053 psi) – The capacity of acrylic to resist squeezing forces.
  5. Modulus of Elasticity: 3,000 MPa (435,113 psi) – This elastic modulus indicates the stiffness of acrylic, impacting its flexibility under load.
  6. Impact Resistance: Notched Izod impact test results are around 0.35-0.40 KJ/m² – Reflects acrylic’s ability to withstand sudden impacts, crucial for applications where durability is a concern.
  7. Thermal Expansion Coefficient: 50-60 x 10⁻⁶ K⁻¹ – Acrylic expands with temperature increases, a vital consideration for parts intended for environments with temperature fluctuations.
  8. Heat Deflection Temperature: 95°C (203°F) at 0.46 MPa (66.4 psi) – The temperature at which acrylic deforms under a specific load, important for applications near heat sources.
  9. Light Transmission: Up to 92% for clear acrylic – Essential for applications requiring optical clarity.
  10. Refractive Index: Approximately 1.49 – Influences the passage of light through acrylic, significant for optical and lens applications.
  11. Water Absorption Rate: 0.3% – Acrylic can absorb minimal moisture, affecting its dimensions and properties in humid conditions.
  12. Chemical Resistance: Acrylic is resistant to dilute acids and alkalis but can be damaged by strong solvents and cleaners – Knowledge of chemical resistance ensures the longevity of acrylic parts in various environments.
  13. UV Resistance: Acrylic inherently resists UV light degradation, making it suitable for outdoor use without significant yellowing or weakening over time.
  14. Hardness: Rockwell M scale 95 – Determines the surface wear and scratch resistance of acrylic materials.

XTJ is a leading OEM Manufacturer that is dedicated to providing one-stop manufacturing solutions  from prototype to production. We are proud to be an ISO 9001 certified system quality management company and we are determined to create value in every customer relationship. We do that through collaboration, innovation, process improvements, and exceptional workmanship.



Make the best product possible with the help of our international team of experts. When you’re ready for a project review, contact us for a free quote.

Contact Form Demo (#3)