You don't have to give up if your project calls for cutting acrylic or polycarbonate because you most likely already have all of the tools you need at home.
There is little disagreement about the proper methods for cutting wood. Cutting plastic, particularly acrylic and polycarbonate, on the other hand, is a completely different story.
Plastic is more difficult to work with for a variety of reasons. Some types of plastic melt during the cutting process, which can cause serious injury if you don't take proper precautions. Another issue is that plastic surfaces are susceptible to scratches, and the edges of the project may require buffing after it is completed.
Here are three different techniques for cutting plastic that you can use depending on the thickness of the material and the style of cut polycarbonate sheets you want to achieve.
Plastic Sheets are being cut into thin sheets.
Using a simple utility knife and the following steps, you can make a straight cut in a thin acrylic or polycarbonate plastic sheet (up to 1/8 inch thick) with ease.
1. Clamp the sheet to a large work surface to keep it from moving.
2. After marking your desired cut line with a straight edge, use a utility knife to score the sheet of plastic several times until you have a deep groove in the material. If possible, you'll want the score line to extend nearly halfway through the plastic.
3. Turn the sheet over and repeat the scoring process on the other side, along the same cut line, as you did on the first.
4. Transfer your work surface to the plastic sheet and reposition it so that the scored groove lines 5. up with the edge of your work surface. Clamp the plastic in place to keep it from moving.
Finally, snap off the portion of the piece that is protruding from the surface.
Plastic Sheets that are too thick to cut
The use of a circular saw or a table saw on thicker sheets of acrylic and polycarbonate plastic (greater than 1/8 inch thick) is required to make straight cuts on the material. Make use of blades that are specifically designed to cut plastic, which are often referred to as "No Melt" blades. custom polycarbonate parts to orderTo achieve the best results, the teeth of the blade should be uniformly spaced, of uniform height and shape, and closely spaced together (see illustration). Teeth that are spaced farther apart from one another may chip or crack the plastic. It is important to note that if you choose to use a regular blade rather than a "No Melt" blade, the heat generated may cause the plastic to melt. Pause between cuts to allow the blade to cool down as a safety precaution.