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CapabilitiesCustom Online CNC Machining ServicesAcrylic CNC Machining

Acrylic CNC Machining

Acrylic is an optically clear, lightweight, and UV-stable plastic that exhibits excellent strength and stiffness. These properties make it an ideal glass substitute for many applications. CNC machining in acrylic is widely used in the automotive industry as well as in the test and measurement industry.

cnc machined acrylic parts

About Acrylic CNC Machining

Acrylic is a thermoplastic, meaning it can be melted and reformed and won’t lose its fundamental material properties. One of the key benefits of acrylic, when compared to other clear plastics, is the fact that it does not discolor with prolonged exposure to sunlight. In addition, it is lighter and more impact resistant than glass. One key weakness, compared to glass, is that acrylic is not suited to high-temperature applications.

Acrylic At a Glance

Application

Acrylic is mainly used as a low-cost and lightweight glass alternative. Applications include instrument dial covers and vehicle lamp covers.

Advantages

High impact resistance, optically clear, retains clarity with exposure to UV light

Disadvantages

Easily scratched

Lead Time

Lead time is generally a minimum of 3 days. However, this can increase depending on availability or if the parts are to be internationally manufactured.

Price

$

Tolerances

Machining tolerances of 0.010” (0.25 mm) are achievable.

Wall Thickness

A minimum wall thickness of 0.03” (0.8 mm) is achievable. This can vary depending on the ratio of wall thickness to planar dimension.

Max Part Size

The maximum size of the part is determined by the machines available and the complexity of the part.

Acrylic

Acrylic is a tough material that has numerous benefits over glass. For one, acrylic can be easily machined whereas glass cannot. This gives you the option of CNC machining in acrylic when the task requires both complex geometry and high levels of optical clarity in the final part. Acrylic’s clarity makes it ideal for inspection windows, chemical testing hardware, and instrumentation covers.

General Acrylic Properties
Tensile Strength, Yield (MPa)Elongation at Break (%)Hardness (Shore D)Heat Deflection Temperature (°C)Melting Point (°C)
Tensile Strength, Yield (MPa)

25-85

Elongation at Break (%)

1-85

Hardness (Shore D)

90

Heat Deflection Temperature (°C)

73-109

Melting Point (°C)

102-122

Finishes

Surface finishes are rarely applied to CNC machined acrylic because most would impede the material’s inherent optical properties. In cases where a finish is needed, opt for one that enhances these properties.

Standard: Visible tool marks on any cut face will show as swirls.

Bead Blast: Makes the acrylic a matte frosted appearance and mitigates visible tool marks.

Custom Polishing: Acrylic can be polished for additional clarity through chemical processes or manual progressive wet sanding at additional costs.

    Cost-saving Design Tips

    Acrylic is a readily available material but take care to design within the limits of the available material as described below.

    Design to standard sizes: Acrylic is typically supplied in sheets of varying thicknesses as well as extruded forms such as tubes and solid bars. Designing parts to fall within the dimensions of off-the-shelf sheet and bar stock will keep costs to a minimum. If the required part is too large, consider breaking it into multiple components that can then be glued or fastened together after machining. 

      CNC machining design tip
      Instant Quoting Engine

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