Looking for advice on working with 15mm acrylic please - Router Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-03-2010, 04:49 AM Thread Starter
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Default Looking for advice on working with 15mm acrylic please

Hi everyone,

This is only my 2nd post as Ive only just come across this great place

I am more of a metal worker but recently have been asked to produce some rectangular shapes from 15mm acrylic. The shape is a rounded rectangle approx 300mm wide by 500mm high.

I am looking to source a suitable machine and cutter for this project and also looking to find the best technique to work with this material. Im not sure how many passes should be made and how or where to get the template made?

The edges will be hidden afterwards as the material is fitted inside a similar sized plastic hole, the face of the material around the edges will be visible though and is important that I dont have any chips as this will make the acrylic look untidy. The acrylic is being used as a window inside some plastic sheeting.

My idea for using a template is becuase each of these have to be exactly the same size. I'm desperate to try and get this to work.

If anyone can spare a few moments to help on any part of this I would be extremely grateful indeed.

Thanks for looking at my thread
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-04-2010, 01:31 PM
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it's been quite a while, but I used to work for a plastic sheet distributor/fabricator. I'm thinking we would have preferred to cut the blank on a table saw with an appropriate saw blade (don't recall the TPI, but you should be able to find that). Routers had trouble with acrylic that thick, being so brittle at the edges. Sounds like ballistic grade, is it solid acrylic, or laminated with glass or polycarbonate? How "rounded" is it? Just at the corners? Either way, if you decide to route it, you could possibly get a nice edge by clamping wood or softer plastic on bottom and top to protect the edge corners, this usually helped with any fabrication of acrylic if I recall.

One last question, how far in from the edge will the other plastic cover your piece? the chips I'm referring too are usually quite small.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-06-2010, 04:02 PM Thread Starter
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Its solid cast 15mm acrylic. I dont need any radius on the edge it can be square. Any chips no matter how small will be visible. I suppose I could add a tiny radius to finish the piece and hide the chips.

I am due to meet a saw manufactring company next week who say they can cut the acrylic to size with a crisp finish, the same with hdpe. I need to apply a radius to some 15mm HDPE also and slot cut it. I have some test pieces on their way for me to play with.

Do you have any experience with HDPE material?

Thanks for your reply, your comments are much appreciated.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 10:03 AM
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Most of the fab companies that can cut that thick of cast acrylic are set up with a computer saw that clamps the piece and puts a nice sawcut edge. Hopefully that works out, it's probably the best way to handle that.
HDPE will machine like butter compared to the acrylic. It's very soft compared to acrylic. It's basically cutting board material, similar to UHMW if you've every used that. I just routed some 1/2" (13mm) HDPE with a regular 1 HP Bosch router and it gave me a VERY smooth finish with no special bits or tools. I don't think you'll have any trouble with it.
The one thing to consider is that the surface on HDPE is very easy to scratch and the material is typically not sold with any kind of protective masking as the acrylic is. if you need a nice surface on the HDPE for your application, I'd put some kind of masking on it before you work with it at all.
Hope that helps...Good luck
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