Features of laser cutting, engraving and milling of acrylic

Acrylic Treatment Methods

Humanity got acquainted with acrylic in the 30s of the twentieth century. The creation of this material is attributed to the German chemist Otto Rem and the Soviet engineer Boris Zverev, who approached the discovery almost simultaneously. Plexiglas has a unique combination of performance characteristics and excellent processing capabilities – it is well processed mechanically and with a laser. Each method has its own characteristics, pros and cons.

A wide range of positive qualities of plexiglass

Durable, lightweight, resistant to chemicals and weather conditions, acrylic is widely used in everyday life and in production. Due to its light-penetrating properties, it remarkably replaces quartz glass, being more resistant to shock loads. The introduction of dyes at the production stage makes it possible to obtain material of different colors. All these positive qualities of acrylic make it indispensable in advertising, souvenir business, architecture, construction, design, and even in many areas of activity.

Acrylic machining on a milling machine

Modern milling equipment provides accurate processing and high quality surfaces, which gives complete freedom to the imaginations of designers in the development of any, including exclusive products. The router can work with flat, three-dimensional parts, performing a variety of operations – cutting (rectilinear and complicated contour), high-quality engraving, figured edge processing, drilling holes of various sizes and configurations. Processing is performed in several passes cutters, which each time removes a certain layer of material. The use of CNC makes it possible to create parts of complex geometry, eliminates the possibility of chipping and scratches on the work surface. There is still a slight drawback in the machining of the mill. Since the cutting tool performs a rotating motion, the inner corners of the workpiece are not perfectly sharp, but slightly rounded. Given the fragility of the material, when working with thin sheets in order to avoid their deformation, it is better to use a laser.

How to avoid plastic damage during milling

First of all, you need to take care of fixing the workpiece on the working surface. In order not to spoil the material, it is recommended to use a vacuum clamp. The processing itself must be carried out with sufficient speed and a properly selected tool. Then the chips do not have time to turn into a viscous mass, clogging the cutter grooves (which can cause overheating of the tool and its failure). But even the optimal mode does not save from the formation of fine dust and chips, which are a source of static electricity. This problem is solved by properly organized grounding of the machine and blowing the cutting area to remove waste particles.

Accurate and economical laser technology for cutting and engraving acrylic

Laser treatment is a concentrated effect of thermal energy on the surface. A beam focused to a point heats the local region to the melting point, burning the material through or to a certain depth.

Linear and curly laser cutting

Laser machines with high precision perform straight and curved cutting sheet acrylic. With this equipment you can easily cut complex shapes of any size – from the smallest to the largest, elements with an intricate contour, openwork patterns. This method is characterized by high quality of cuts, characterized by smoothness, transparency and not requiring grinding or polishing. Laser cutting is performed with minimal power and speed. The width of the cutting line is fractions of a millimeter, which allows you to place the workpiece very close to each other, and therefore save material.

Laser Engraving Features

Laser engraving is widely used in the manufacture of advertising and souvenirs. The images made by this method are of excellent quality, durability, resistance to abrasion and other external influences, including atmospheric. The laser beam is able to display labels, drawings and even photos with a high degree of accuracy. By varying the radiation power and the angle of the beam, various visual effects can be obtained on the surface. For engraving, choose the speed mode, under which the optimum power is selected depending on the depth of cut. The result of engraving will look different depending on the properties of the material. On cast acrylic, the image is homogeneous, on extruded – granular.

What is the best way to choose to work with acrylic

Summarizing the above, we can conclude that both methods are acceptable for the treatment of acrylic and are characterized by excellent quality of manufactured products. The laser, which has limitations on the thickness of the material (up to 20 mm), is preferable to use for cutting out elements with a complex contour and making highly accurate images. For cutting thick sheets and creating bulk parts the best solution is milling equipment. In addition, some types of acrylic, containing chlorine in its composition, can be treated only with a milling machine, since during laser treatment, dangerous vapors are released due to thermal effects.

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