I am working on a project at school in our automation lab. We are trying to simplify our process to limit how much we handle the acrylic. Has anyone out there had any experience turning acrylic on a mandrel or even between centers on a CNC lathe? I'm hoping to be able to turn the acrylic between centers, but wanted a better feel from someone who may have some experience with this. I figured it machines very easily so you wouldn't need a ton of pressure squeezing the piece between centers. I'm open to any feedback. Thanks in advance.
First comment: Do not spend any time trying to do anything with acrylic unless it is CAST acrylic.
Turning between centers is possible but take care, acrylic does not have much tensile strength and if you diameter is small the center will split the end. This is especially likely if you drill the center hole with a used center drill resulting in the acrylic getting hot with the formation of stress cracks around the hole.
Tools for acrylic should be really sharp with zero9 top rake. I have always found HSS best sharpened on a very fine wheel and have not had much success with carbide. Most carbide inserts do not have a really sharp edge and rub too much for acrylic; micrograin carbide with a very sharp edge is available but the tools are often intend for aluminum so they have a significant top rake.
An open mind is a virtue...so long as all the common sense has not leaked out.