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CNC Machining in ABS

ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic is used in a wide array of industries due to its low cost, manufacturability, and exceptional mechanical properties. It is found in a vast number of consumer products and is also used extensively in the automotive industry. CNC machined ABS exhibits remarkable toughness, rigidity, and shock absorbance characteristics, especially for such an inexpensive material.

cnc machined abs partscnc machined abs parts

About ABS for CNC Machining

ABS, or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, is a widely used thermoplastic that has become common due to its relatively low cost and excellent toughness. CNC machining in ABS is a cost-effective way to cut parts into custom shapes without the need for expensive molds, particularly for prototypes, jigs and fixtures, and low-volume production.

ABS At a Glance
ApplicationProduct housings, fixtures and jigs, vehicle dashboards
AdvantagesHigh-impact resistance, low cost, chemical resistance
DisdvantagesNot viable for high-temperature applications, damaged by solvents, poor UV stability
Lead TimeLead time is generally a minimum of 3 days. However, this can increase depending on part complexity and the manufacturing origin.
Price$
TolerancesMachining tolerances of 0.010” (0.25 mm) are achievable.
Wall ThicknessA minimum wall thickness of 0.03” (0.8 mm) is achievable. This can vary depending on the ratios of wall thickness to planar dimensions. The specific ABS grade will also affect the minimum wall thickness.
Max Part SizeThe maximum size of the part is determined by the machines available and the complexity of the part.

General ABS

ABS has good dimensional stability, excellent impact strength, and is easily machined. This makes CNC machined ABS ideal for applications that require low-cost and hard-wearing parts such as tool enclosures and casings.

General ABS Properties
Tensile Strength, Yield (MPa)Elongation at Break (%)Hardness (Rockwell R)Heat Deflection Temperature (°C)Melting Point (°C)
40.753.4%10797.4267

Finishes

CNC machined ABS typically is available in beige (natural) and black colors. Custom colors may be available through direct sourcing.

  • As Machined: CNC ABS parts are machined to specifications with minor tool marks or swirls on the surface of the material.
  • Bead Blast: For more matte parts, the surface can be bead blasted with fine glass beads to reduce shine. However, bead blasting plastics may cause uneven surfaces or may damage finely detailed features.
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Cost-saving Design Tips

ABS is a very cheap plastic that is easy to machine and has excellent mechanical properties. To further save costs, engineers can pre-injection mold prototypes. While ABS itself is cheap, molds are not. Once a mold is designed, manufactured, and working as expected, the cost per part becomes miniscule. Before time and money is invested into an expensive mold, however, it’s a good idea to machine a prototype out of ABS to ensure that the part features are rigid and perform as expected.


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