Machining plastic is a subtractive manufacturing process offered by 3Diligent and a fine art when it comes to the machining industry. Plastics come in a wide range of densities and hardness factors, which means manufacturing can cause the materials to chip, melt, or crack. Many metal job shops and machine shops accustomed to cutting metal will not with plastics.
When choosing plastics for your machined parts, you must factor in thermal expansion, moisture absorption, residual stress, and reaction to chemicals. With a vast selection of plastic materials available in the 3Diligent 3Depot Material & Technology Search Tool, the possibility of finding a machinable plastic able to meet your specifications in these four areas is not only possible, it’s likely.
Most quality plastic materials are stress-relieved to ensure machinability and dimensional stability during the manufacturing process. However, due to the softness of plastics when compared to metal options, it’s usually difficult to maintain specifications of tight tolerances—both during and after the machining process. As a guide for your planning process, consider that plastic parts are +/- .001 per inch of dimension. If tighter tolerances are required, some stable, reinforced plastics can deliver tighter tolerances.
Listed below are some plastics commonly used for machining. The 3Diligent 3Depot Material & Technology Search tool provides many other material options for additive and subtractive processes. Click here to start your 3Depot search.
ABS. Outstanding impact-resistant, low-cost plastic suitable for machining and thermoforming. Acetal. High strength, stiff, low friction engineering plastic with good wear properties. Acrylic. Outstanding strong, stiff, clear plastic available in a variety of brilliant colors and finishes. Polyamide. Extremely high temperature creep resistant plastic with excellent friction and wear characteristics. High Impact Polystyrene. Low cost, tough plastic material that is easy to thermoform and fabricate. Nylon. Strong, stiff engineering plastic often used to replace metal bearings and bushings.
We worked with 3Diligent on a urethane casting project. The breadth of materials and services they offered, including flame retardant and color options, made them a great partner on this program. We were very satisfied with the experience.
The evolution from prototyping to production is different for every project, calling for different machines, materials, and investments every step of the way. No provider can offer everything you could need under a single roof, especially in the rapidly evolving space of digital manufacturing—and when companies try, it makes even the most basic jobs exorbitantly expensive.
That’s where 3Diligent has been designed to be different. Using the power of cloud computing, 3Diligent leverages a global network of qualified manufacturers to complete custom manufacturing projects on demand.