How to Choose Nylon Grades for Your CNC Parts?

Nylon often tops the list when selecting materials for CNC machining due to its strength, flexibility, and resistance. However, only some nylon grades are suitable for some projects. Identifying the right type can be the difference between a product that meets specifications and one that fails prematurely. Today, I want to share my experiences and insights on choosing the best nylon grade for your CNC parts, ensuring that your components perform optimally in their intended applications.

In the vast world of thermoplastics, nylon stands out for its versatility and durability, making it a preferred choice for many CNC machining projects. The key to selecting the suitable nylon grade lies in understanding the specific demands of your application. For instance, Nylon 6/6, with its high melting point and superior mechanical strength, is ideal for high-load bearings and wear pads. At the same time, Nylon 12 offers excellent moisture resistance and is suitable for underwater or outdoor applications.

Staying informed about the different grades and their properties enhances the durability of your parts and optimizes your manufacturing processes. Keep reading as we delve deeper into the types of nylon and how to select the perfect one for your needs.

Understanding Nylon

Nylon, a synthetic polymer belonging to the polyamides family, has been a cornerstone in the plastics industry since its invention in the 1930s. Known primarily for its strength, durability, and resistance to wear and abrasion, nylon serves as a versatile material in numerous applications ranging from textile fibers to automotive parts.

What makes nylon particularly appealing in CNC machining is its adaptability and the variety of grades available, each tailored to meet specific mechanical and thermal requirements.

Common Types of Nylon

Nylon 6

Nylon 6 is synthesized through a process known as ring-opening polymerization. It’s known for its ability to absorb moisture, which can lead to dimensional changes and enhance its impact resistance.

This type is particularly valued for its high tensile strength and easy machinability, making it a good choice for mechanical parts like plastic fasteners, gears, and other bearing applications.

Nylon 6/6

Nylon 6/6 of nylon grades
Nylon 6/6, created through the condensation of hexamethylenediamine and adipic acid, offers enhanced mechanical strength and thermal stability compared to Nylon 6.

It stands out for its balance of strength, rigidity, and toughness, making it ideal for high-load bearings and wear pads in CNC machining. Its ability to withstand high temperatures and wear makes it suitable for automotive and industrial applications.

Nylon 6/12

Nylon 6/12 is similar to Nylon 6 but offers lower moisture absorption, translating to better dimensional stability and lower impact resistance.

This grade is beneficial in applications where water or humidity is frequent, such as tubing, hose fittings, and various consumer goods.

Nylon 11 and Nylon 12

These are unique among the nylons due to their synthesis from renewable resources, primarily castor oil. Nylon 11 and 12 are known for their excellent resistance to chemicals, abrasion, and UV light.

Their flexibility and durability make them suitable for specialized applications requiring prolonged outdoor exposure or contact with harsh chemicals, such as in the automotive and aerospace industries.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Nylon Grades

Application Requirements

Understanding the specific demands of your application is the first and most critical step. Ask yourself: What mechanical stresses will the part endure? Does the environment include exposure to chemicals, moisture, or extreme temperatures?

For instance, if the component requires high impact resistance and flexibility, Nylon 11 or 12 might be ideal, whereas Nylon 6/6 would be better suited for high-load mechanical applications.

Mechanical Properties

Different nylon grades offer varying strength, stiffness, and thermal resistance levels. A stiffer, more robust nylon like Nylon 6/6 is necessary for applications requiring high structural integrity under stress. Conversely, a more flexible grade like Nylon 6 might be more appropriate if the part needs to absorb shock or vibrations.

Moisture Absorption

Nylon’s ability to absorb moisture can significantly impact its mechanical properties and dimensional stability. Grades like Nylon 6/12 absorb less moisture than Nylon 6, making them more suitable for applications where consistent dimensions are critical, such as precision components for aerospace or automotive industries.

Thermal Properties

If your part will be exposed to high temperatures, choosing a nylon grade with suitable thermal properties is crucial. Nylon 6/6, for example, withstands higher temperatures than Nylon 6, making it ideal for applications near engines or other heat-generating components.

Cost Considerations

While the technical specifications are paramount, cost is always a consideration. Some nylon grades are more expensive due to their production process or raw materials. Balancing cost with performance requirements is essential for maintaining budget without compromising quality.


Lastly, consider the machinability of the nylon grade. Some nylons are more accessible to machines than others, influencing the speed and cost of production. Grades that machine cleanly and with less tool wear can significantly reduce manufacturing time and costs.

Nylon CNC Machining Vs. Injection Manufacturing Methods

CNC Machining of Nylon

CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining is a subtractive manufacturing process where material is removed from a solid nylon block using various cutting tools to achieve the desired shape. This method is exact and allows for complex geometries and tight tolerances.

Advantages of CNC Machining:

  • Precision and Customization: CNC machining provides exceptional accuracy and flexibility in part design, making it ideal for complex or custom parts.
  • No Need for Tooling: Unlike injection molding, CNC machining does not require molds. This can reduce upfront costs and lead times, especially for small production runs or prototyping.
  • Material Properties: Machined nylon retains consistent material properties throughout the part, as it is not subjected to the high pressures and temperatures of injection molding, which can affect the crystallinity and mechanical properties.

Advantages of nylon grades

Injection Molding of Nylon

Injection molding involves melting nylon pellets and injecting the molten material into a mold under high pressure. It is an efficient method for producing high volumes of parts with consistent quality.

Advantages of Injection Molding:

  • Scalability: Once the mold is created, parts can be produced rapidly, making injection molding cost-effective for large production runs.
  • Complex Part Design: Injection molding can handle complex part geometries and fine details that might be challenging to achieve with CNC machining.
  • Efficient Material Use: This process minimizes waste, as excess material can be recycled and reused.

Choosing Between CNC Machining and Injection Molding

The decision between CNC machining and injection molding largely depends on several factors:

  • Production Volume: For low to medium volumes, CNC machining might be more cost-effective due to the high cost of mold creation in injection molding. For high volumes, the initial cost of creating a mold can be offset by the lower per-part cost.
  • Lead Time: CNC machining generally has shorter lead times as it does not require mold design and manufacturing.
  • Complexity and Tolerance: CNC machining might be preferable if the part requires extremely tight tolerances or has a complex design. However, injection molding might be the only feasible method for parts with intricate internal features.
  • Material Waste: If material cost is a concern, injection molding reduces waste significantly, which can be crucial in choosing between these methods.


Choosing the correct nylon grade and manufacturing process is crucial for the success of your CNC parts. Please get in touch with us if you need expert guidance or high-quality CNC machining services. We’re here to help you find the perfect solution tailored to your needs and ensure your projects succeed. Reach out today!


What are the most common nylon grades used for CNC machining?

The most common nylon grades used in CNC machining are Nylon 6.

What is the difference between glass-filled and mineral-filled nylons?

Specific additives enhance glass and mineral-filled nylons to improve their mechanical properties. Glass-filled nylons offer increased strength and stiffness, making them suitable for high-load applications. Mineral-filled nylons provide better dimensional stability and heat resistance, critical in applications exposed to high temperatures.