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Thread: Cutting Acrylic on a Wood Router

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    Default Cutting Acrylic on a Wood Router

    I tried my hand at cutting 3/16" plexiglass last night. I got a porter cable 10 amp router that spins up at 23K or 28K RPM. I used a 10 IPM feed, and 1/4" 2 flute spiral up cut bit.

    The material appears to have melted more than cut. I had to use a chisel to get it off the table! After some handy work with a utility knife, I got to a clean enough edge, but there's got to be a better way to work this stuff.

    Does anyone have any suggestions, bits, feeds, speeds?

    Thanks,
    Dean Brock

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  2. #2

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    Plastic cutting bits are usually straight cutters. No up or down cut. They don't do much rubbing this way. I use 3/16" 2 flute straight cutters made by Onsrud. I cut lexan, which has a higher melting temp. I cut with a feedrate of 80 IPM for tight arcs and 150 for everything else.
    I think with a slow feedrate like you were using, you are componding the heat issue.
    Speed it up if you can. Multiple passes might help too. If you can't speed it up on feed, then slowing the router might help some too. I use a cheap router speed controller on my PC 690 when I need to slow it down.
    The torque falls off with the speed, but then if I make a couple passes, it works great.

    Lee


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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Slow your rpm down to 23K, and up your feedrate to about 100ipm. With a 1/4" tool, you'll probably still have trouble due to the chips packing in the cut, unless you can blow compressed air on them to clear them out. You're best bet would probably be to try to rough cut them about 1/32" oversize, remove the surrounding scrap and then run a finishing pass.

    Gerry

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://home.comcast.net/~cncwoodworker/2010.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)


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    Conventional cutting (vs climb cutting) helps too- the chips don't get stuck to each other. I'm milling the stuff at 2.4K rpm (WAY below you) and about 11ipm with an 18mm end mill. Rack the RPM down until you get a steady stream of individual chips coming off the cut then increase it while catching the chips in your hand- you will be able to tell when the chips are getting too hot and this is your optimal cutting speed/ feed. If they come off all gnarly and stuck together you're going too fast.

    I know I'm using a mil and you're using a router, but the main reason cutting acrylic or other polymers fail is the spindle being too fast... it melts (and smells lol).

    2 flutes are better than 3 or 4 which whak the material too much

    I love deadlines- I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.


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    I engrave plexi plates(with v bit) for foundry match plates and end up sitting there with a stick constantly knocking the little blob of plastic off the end of the bit. If not the blob just gets bigger and ruins the letters( usually 1/8 to 1/4 high)
    Dave

    In the words of the Toolman--If you didn't make it yourself, it's not really yours!
    Remember- done beats perfect every time!!


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    I know it's a router, I have a 2 1/4 hp PC on my K2cnc and manufacture a box out of 1.00 cast sheet and I cut .750 deep and I [ food grade mineral oil ] in a squirt bottle, light spray, or silicone spray non flamable. works for me. And if you have a dust exracter, it's even better as to keep it out of your router. and if you not going very deep you can use wax.

    9lrac9



  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by beone View Post
    I engrave plexi plates(with v bit) for foundry match plates and end up sitting there with a stick constantly knocking the little blob of plastic off the end of the bit. If not the blob just gets bigger and ruins the letters( usually 1/8 to 1/4 high)
    Dave
    Try using liquid Dish-Soap mixed with a little water, it washes off easy, and the plastic will never stick to the tool!
    It also makes the finished part more transparent, instead of dull frosted look.
    The nice thin is you don't need a lot, just paint the area prior to machining!

    Widgit

    www.widgitmaster.com
    It's not what you take away, it's what you are left with that counts!


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    Quote Originally Posted by widgitmaster View Post
    Try using liquid Dish-Soap mixed with a little water, it washes off easy, and the plastic will never stick to the tool!
    It also makes the finished part more transparent, instead of dull frosted look.
    The nice thin is you don't need a lot, just paint the area prior to machining!

    Widgit
    The downside is it leaves a few clean spots in the shop so the really dirty spots stand out more.

    Lee


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    Quote Originally Posted by widgitmaster View Post
    Try using liquid Dish-Soap mixed with a little water, it washes off easy, and the plastic will never stick to the tool!
    It also makes the finished part more transparent, instead of dull frosted look.
    The nice thin is you don't need a lot, just paint the area prior to machining!

    Widgit
    I will give this a try
    Dave

    In the words of the Toolman--If you didn't make it yourself, it's not really yours!
    Remember- done beats perfect every time!!


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    Widgetmaster, You rock!! It never ceases to amaze me how the little things make all the difference. Cut a plexi plate last night and used the soap-- came out beautiful.
    Thanks a million!
    Dave

    In the words of the Toolman--If you didn't make it yourself, it's not really yours!
    Remember- done beats perfect every time!!


  11. #11

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    If you want to cut plex and have it come out crystal clear like a window use Kerosine for the cutting fluid. An old trick I learned at a Plastics Machine Shop years ago. You will be amazed by the results.



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    I've got some 3/8" cast acrylic to cut with the paper backing, when you guys are talking about the soap/kerosine, are you removing the paper first before cutting or leaving it on? I've just got my CNC, so anything more detailed about this method would be a big help.



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