Let’s get the basics out of the way first. Plastics are materials made from polymers (synthetic resins) that can be remoulded with the application of pressure and heat. Techniques like Computer aided drawing (CAD) have revolutionised the entire plastic manufacturing industry while offering better reliability and quality at the same time.
Thermoplastics and Thermosets are two broad categories of plastics. This division is based on the behaviour they exhibit when they are heated.
Common materials like acrylic sheets, polyamide, polycarbonate, polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride are thermoplastics while ester, polyester, Silicone and Vulcanized rubber are Thermosets. Acrylic sheets are the material of choice for businesses looking for customised, high quality parts at an affordable cost.
How to Choose the Best Fabrication Process for Acrylic Sheets
Below are some significant factors you should consider when deciding on the right production process for your products:
- Cost and Volume: Volume is one of the prime aspects of any fabrication process using acrylic Sheets. So, you should have a clear-cut idea of the total parts you plan to manufacture. Many industries have higher setup and tooling costs while some begin with a fewer resources. Cycle time, labour costs, and automation percentage are some of the factors responsible for the cost-per-part.
- Size and Shape: The size and shape of the parts are equally important in deciding the correct fabrication process with acrylic sheets. Limited tolerance and complicated internal geometry might affect the manufacturing options. Design for manufacturing methods using Computer aided drawing (CAD) models can be useful here to enhance the economic viability of the product or the part.
- Lead Time: The lead time depends on aspects like manufacturing set up and tooling. These can affect the execution of the process.
- Material: The material’s ability to live up to its functional requirements, while considering the cost involved can be a key factor for choosing the material. The manufacturer should check the feasibility of the material involved like acrylic sheets, polycarbonate or polyvinyl chloride before starting the fabrication process.
CNC Machining with Computer Aided Drawing (CAD)
In CNC machining, multiple manufacturing tasks are regulated with the help of computerised devices that employ the Computer aided drawing (CAD) technology. Computer aided drawing (CAD) involves building three-dimensional models based on geometric parameters.
Plastics, such as acrylic sheets, are shaped by cutting, drilling, boring, and grinding. In this subtractive process, the finished product is obtained through the help of lathe machines or milling.
CNC Manufacturing Process: Importance of Computer Aided Drawing (Cad)
- The setup involves generating tool paths and validating them through Computer aided drawing (CAD). Once the setup is completed, these software programs monitor the movement of cutting tools, their speed, and any other related changes.
- Machining involves the subtractive process and begins once the tool paths are sent to the machine.
- In the final steps, after processing, the product or material like acrylic sheets or polycarbonate is shaped and trimmed accordingly.
Advantages with CNC Manufacturing
- It is ideal for plastic parts that require higher tolerance and have rigid geometries to handle.
- CNC machining is cost-effective and viable for high-quality production using acrylic sheets.
- The production involves a shorter lead time.
- The typical materials that support CNC manufacturing are acrylic sheets, polyethylene, and polycarbonate, polyamide nylon to name a few.