Things to Know about Custom Plastic Machining

by | Oct 24, 2017 | Machine

If your shop intends to offer custom plastic machining in Washington, you may face some obstacles, and some could be very difficult. After all, working with plastic is not like most metals (which are hard and relatively easy to machine). In fact, plastics present a challenge even to the best machine shops today and here are some helpful tips for machining with the fewest problems.


When you do custom plastic machining in Washington, the parts can heat up substantially. This can result in a condition known as thermal expansion where the part actually increases in size due to the heat. You may have some thermal expansion when machining metals but with plastics, it can be one thousand percent worse, so be sure to make allowances for heat.

Plastic parts tend to hold heat longer than metal. This means you may need to wait longer for them to cool down and avoid situations that can create heat buildup. As plastic heats, it may become soft, and some types of plastics can easily melt. In fact, they may be unsuitable for most kinds of machining.

Cutting Tools

The use of high-speed steel is usually not recommended for custom plastic machining in Washington. HSS tends to dull quickly when cutting elastic material like plastics. Also, you may have problems with clogging, and that’s why it’s a good idea to use extremely hard and sharp cutting tools like tungsten carbide. In fact, for some jobs, you may get better results with diamond tipped tools.

Dealing with Difficult Projects

If your shop doesn’t have a lot of experience with custom plastic machining in Washington, you may want to check with a local shop that specializes in plastics. You won’t have to make any investments in new equipment or supplies, and you can still meet the needs of your customers with high-quality parts.

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