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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi gang,

Looking for advice on a project, was t sure where to turn.

I want to route a design into a plastic radiator cover, such as the Ford Performance Radiator Cover (can't post links yet).

I was thinking of making a template to follow then routing it out. But I'm not sure what type of router or bits to use. I'll need to purchase the supplies so don't want to get the wrong thing...

Any advice would be appreciated!
 

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There are router bits specifically for routing plastics, usually described as having "O" flutes. I know that Onsrud sells some and I think I've also seen them in either Freud, CMT, or Amana's offerings.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Here is a picture of what I'm trying to achieve:



The plastic is very thin and I don't want to go all the way through. I was considering using my Dremel with plunge router attachment, but have read that it spins too fast. I feel a full size will be way overkill for this.

I'll be doing the name of my car club. If it turns out well I anticipate making a bunch of them so will create a jig to work from.

S.
 

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If it's for something like shown in this link, and you have to buy a router and bit and go to the trouble of making a template, then I would suggest that you have it professionally Laser engraved. A better answer might be forthcoming if you were to complete your profile showing your past experience and the tools that you have, also a first name would be nice.
Welcome to the forum.

http://www.cjponyparts.com/ford-performance-radiator-cover-v6-gt-ecoboost-2015-2017/p/M8291FP/
 

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Mike
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If the portion of the cover that you want to route the design into is not flat then I suggest using masking and etching chemicals or or fine sandblasting equipment to put the design onto the cover.

If it is flat then you can make a template to route the design. You would need to allow for the diameter of a router busing in the template and like suggested before use a 0 flute bit. You also need to do some test cutting to determine the best seep to set your router to for cutting the plastic. Too fast and the plastic will melt and you will have a mess, too slow and you will not get a clean cut and possibly chipping, so testing is in order here.
 
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If the plastic is very thin then I think I would follow Mike's advice to sand blast. I don't know about etching fluids on plastics. That is a common way to etch glass but plastic is impervious to those fluids that work on glass. In any case trying to rout that onto very thin plastic is pretty much guaranteed not to work as you only want to go a few thousandths deep and it will be next to impossible to get a router to do that.
 

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Mike
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You can use a small blast gun like this and this would be my choice:

.5MM Master Air Eraser Airbrus Mini Sandblaster w/15cc Cup

Here is an procedure Etching on Any Surface Cheaply and Without the Use of Chemicals: 7 Steps (with Pictures)

For chemical etching of plastics you need the right chemical for each plastic compound and some are rather expensive. They can be real messy and some will require the proper filters in a respirator to use them, others are relatively same to use but will they etch the plastic in question.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Great replies all, thanks!

I hadn't considered sandblasting so I'll look into that as well. The example I posted is machined so I thought I'd duplicate that, but I'm guessing they have better equipment than I do.
 

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Mike
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What you show might be an etching paint process that they use on some plastics to make the paint bond with the plastic.
 
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An 1/8" O flute made for plastics will do that no problem.

For me that's table top CNC work(it would be in my shop) , but it can easily be done with the similar bit and template with a handheld router. With a hand held go with the smallest bit you can and down cut version.

It's all in the bit really(and plastic type).

If you have CNC these bits by Amana and Onsrud will work great and I have used the smaller versions in hand held no problem, but templating is a lot of work, as Harry pointed out. As long as the plastic is a bit thicker than 1/8", or 1/4" thick or more it is EASILY done with a cnc router. I would not mess with etching or sandblasting or even laser, FOR ME this is router work. Unless the plastic is SUPER thin I would not go laser either. Some plastics don't work very well with laser anyhow. Anyone with a little cnc router could knock this out in short order. I have cut loads of plastic like this on my little cnc machines and it works far better than I ever thought it would. But the plastic makes a huge difference even more than the bit.

https://www.toolstoday.com/g-34-solid-carbide-plastic-cutting-spiral-o-flute-router-bits.aspx

https://www.toolstoday.com/p-5879-s...-bits.aspx?&variantids=11572,0&keywords=51411

Information on cutting plastic with router bits:


The most common problems in plastic routing | Documents



 

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Mike
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MIke, Do you suppose he could pick up a set of dies and stamp the letters into the thin plastic?
David
I don't think I would want to try stamping that plastic, of course I don't know exactly what the makeup of the plastic is.

Really goes back to the flatness of the area where the work will be done. If it is a good flat area then a template, bushing and router with the correct bit would work. If the area is not flat enough then I would go with a sand blasting technique using masking. You can get larger sand blasting equipment than the link I gave earlier and you can pick the blasting media to suite the job.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The one I posted a picture of is definitely machined. Close ups show the tooling marks.

I don't have a CNC so that is out, but think I'll give it a try with a router and template. I also looked into Air Eraser etching which seems like a reasonable option, but I like the indented look.

The area is perfectly flat. I haven't measured the thickness yet but there is definitely enough meat.

I'll make the template next and fit it up.

S.
 

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When I looked it didn't appear to be very thick, as in a thick film. I would make sure that it is held down securely. One problem with any kind of plastic is if it starts to flutter. When it does that there is a risk of the cutter grabbing it.
 
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