Unlocking Possibilities: Exploring The Materials Of Plastic CNC Cutting

In today’s rapidly evolving manufacturing landscape, CNC machining has emerged as a powerful technology, enabling the production of highly precise and intricate parts. While metals have traditionally been the primary focus of CNC machining, there is an ever-increasing demand for plastic CNC cutting, as it opens up a world of possibilities for various industries.

In this blog post, we will discuss the realm of plastic CNC cutting and examine the diversity of materials that can be used utilized, along with their unique characteristics and applications.

From acrylic, known for its transparency, to ABS, celebrated for its strength, we uncover the applications and advantages of each material. At Worthy Hardware, we specialize in delivering high-quality plastic CNC cutting services, enabling businesses to bring their ideas to life. Join us on this journey of innovation and discover the potential of plastic CNC cutting.

CNC Cutting Plastic Material

1. ABS

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is a versatile thermoplastic that combines the properties of three different monomers: acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene. This unique combination results in a material known for its strength, impact resistance, and durability. It has a smooth surface finish.



Strength and Impact Resistance: ABS exhibits excellent strength and impact resistance, making it suitable for applications where structural integrity is crucial. It can withstand heavy loads and impact forces, ensuring durability in demanding environments.

Versatility and Machinability: ABS is highly versatile and can be easily machined using CNC processes. It can be cut, drilled, milled, and shaped into complex geometries, allowing for the production of intricate parts and components with a smooth surface finish.

Cost-Effectiveness: ABS is relatively affordable compared to some other engineering plastics. Its cost-effectiveness, combined with its mechanical properties and smooth surface, makes it an attractive choice for a wide range of applications.

Chemical Resistance: ABS offers good resistance to chemicals, including acids, alkalis, and oils. This property enhances its suitability for applications that involve exposure to various chemicals.



Limited Heat Resistance: ABS has a moderate heat resistance compared to other engineering plastics. It can withstand temperatures up to approximately 80-85°C (176-185°F), which may restrict its use in high-temperature environments.

Poor UV Stability: ABS is prone to degradation when exposed to prolonged sunlight and UV radiation. Without appropriate additives or surface treatment, it may experience color fading and reduced mechanical properties over time when used outdoors.



Automotive Industry: ABS is widely used in the automotive industry for interior and exterior parts, including dashboards, door panels, grilles, trims, and bumper covers.

Consumer Goods: It is used for items like appliances, luggage, toys, and electronic housings due to its durability, toughness, ease of processing, and the ability to achieve a smooth surface finish.

Electronics: It is a preferred material for electronic enclosures, housing for computer peripherals, and various electrical components.

Prototyping and Rapid Manufacturing: It allows for quick production of functional prototypes and small-scale production runs with excellent surface quality.

Learn more about ABS machining: https://www.worthyhardware.com/cnc-machining-abs/


2. Nylon

Nylon is a versatile thermoplastic polymer renowned for its exceptional mechanical properties, high strength, and durability. As a member of the polyamide family, it has gained widespread usage across multiple industries owing to its outstanding performance characteristics and ease of processing.


Strength and Toughness: Nylon possesses remarkable tensile strength, making it well-suited for applications that demand high load-bearing capacity and impact resistance. Moreover, its inherent toughness allows it to withstand repeated stress, ensuring reliability in demanding environments.

Wear Resistance: Nylon exhibits excellent resistance to wear and tear, making it ideal for applications involving friction and abrasion. Its ability to endure sliding and rubbing against other surfaces enhances longevity and durability.

Lightweight: Nylon stands out as a lightweight material, offering a high strength-to-weight ratio.



Moisture Absorption: One notable drawback of nylon is its propensity to absorb moisture, which can impact dimensional stability and mechanical properties.

High Processing Temperature: Nylon necessitates relatively high processing temperatures during manufacturing, which may impose limitations on certain applications or necessitate specialized equipment for processing.



Engineering Components: Nylon finds extensive use in the production of engineering components, including gears, bearings, bushings, and seals. Its exceptional strength, wear resistance, and toughness render it highly suitable for these applications.

Textiles and Fabrics: The textile industry extensively utilizes nylon in the manufacturing of garments, stockings, ropes, and fabrics. Thanks to its durability, flexibility, and resistance to abrasion, nylon proves to be an ideal choice for textile-related applications.

Learn more about Nylon machining: https://www.worthyhardware.com/cnc-machining-nylon/



PEEK (Polyetheretherketone) is a high-performance thermoplastic known for its exceptional mechanical properties and heat resistance. It belongs to the polyaryletherketone family and has gained popularity in various industries for its unique combination of strength, chemical resistance, and dimensional stability.



Remarkable heat resistance: It can withstand continuous exposure to high temperatures, up to around 250°C (482°F), without significant degradation.

Dimensionally stable: it retains its shape and size even under varying conditions

Excellent mechanical properties: It offers high tensile strength, allowing it to withstand heavy loads and stresses.

Additionally, PEEK has exceptional resistance to wear, making it suitable for applications requiring durability and long-term performance.



While PEEK offers many advantages, it does have some limitations to consider. One major disadvantage is its relatively high costcompared to other engineering plastics. The premium price of PEEK may impact its suitability for cost-sensitive applications.

Another challenge is the difficulty in processing PEEK. It requires specialized equipment and expertise due to its high melting point and viscosity. These requirements may increase production costs and complexity.



PEEK finds applications in numerous industries that require high-performance materials. In the aerospace industry, it is used for aircraft components, such as structural parts, engine components, and electrical connectors, thanks to its lightweight nature, strength, and heat resistance.

In the medical field, PEEK is commonly used for implants, surgical instruments, and dental components due to its biocompatibility, chemical resistance, and radiolucency, allowing for easy visibility in medical imaging.

PEEK is also utilized in the automotive industry for applications such as piston parts, bearings, and electrical connectors, benefiting from its mechanical strength, heat resistance, and chemical stability.

Learn more about PEEK machining: https://www.worthyhardware.com/cnc-machining-peek/


4. POM

POM (Polyoxymethylene), also known as acetal or Delrin, is a versatile engineering thermoplastic known for its excellent mechanical properties and dimensional stability



Low friction

Excellent wear resistance

Good chemical resistance

Excellent machinability



Sensitivity to UV radiation

Lower resistance to high temperatures



POM is also extensively utilized in the consumer goods sector, particularly for manufacturing products like zippers, snap fasteners, handles, and mechanical parts.

Its excellent electrical insulation properties and machinability make it an ideal choice for the electrical and electronics industry, such as switches, connectors, insulators, and housings.

Learn more about POM: https://www.worthyhardware.com/cnc-machining-pom-delrin-acetal/

5. Acrylic/PMMA

Acrylic, sometimes called polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), is a transparent thermoplastic that is popular due to its versatility and optical clarity.



One of the critical advantages of acrylic is its exceptional transparency. It possesses optical clarity comparable to glass, allowing for excellent light transmission. This makes it an ideal material for applications that require visibility, such as display cases, signage, and architectural glazing.

Acrylic is lightweight, weighing only about half as much as glass. This makes handling, transporting, and installing easier, reducing the risk of breakage during handling and offering cost savings in ter.

Another advantage is the ease of fabrication and versatility of acrylic. It can be easily shaped, molded, and CNC machined into various forms and sizes, allowing for creative designs and customization. It can also be polished to achieve a high-gloss finish, enhancing its aesthetic appeal.ms of shipping.



One disadvantage is its lower impact resistance compared to polycarbonate or tempered glass materials. It is easier to scratch and can crack or shatter under high impact. Therefore, caution must be exercised in applications that require high-impact resistance

Acrylic also has relatively lower heat resistance. It softens at higher temperatures, limiting its suitability for applications involving continuous exposure to elevated temperatures. Care must be taken to ensure that the operating conditions remain within its temperature limits.



It is used for windows, skylights, and canopies in the architectural sector due to its transparency, weather resistance, and lightweight nature.

It also finds utility in interior design elements such as decorative panels, lighting fixtures, and furniture.

In the advertising and signage industry, acrylic is a popular choice for creating illuminated signs, lettering, and displays. Its optical clarity, ease of fabrication, and ability to transmit light make it well-suited for these applications.

Learn more about acrylic: https://www.worthyhardware.com/cnc-machining-ppma/


6. PC


Polycarbonate (PC) is a tough, transparent thermoplastic that offers excellent impact resistance and optical clarity.



Outstanding Impact Resistance: Polycarbonate is virtually unbreakable, making it highly resistant to impact or vandalism.

Optical Clarity: Polycarbonate provides excellent optical clarity, allowing for high light transmission similar to glass.

UV Stability: Polycarbonate possesses inherent UV stability, meaning it can resist the effects of prolonged exposure to sunlight without significant degradation or yellowing.



Lower Scratch Resistance: Polycarbonate is more susceptible to scratches compared to materials like glass or acrylic. It requires careful handling and maintenance to prevent surface damage and maintain its optical clarity.

Sensitivity to Certain Chemicals: Polycarbonate can be sensitive to certain chemicals, such as solvents and specific cleaning agents. Exposure to these substances can cause stress cracking or chemical degradation



Construction and Architecture: Polycarbonate is used in the construction sector for applications such as safety glazing, skylights, roofing, and transparent barriers. Its impact resistance, lightweight nature, and UV stability make it a reliable choice for creating durable and aesthetically pleasing structures.

Aerospace and Defense: Polycarbonate is utilized in aerospace and defense applications where lightweight, impact-resistant materials are required. It finds usage in aircraft windows, helmet visors, and protective shields due to its ability to withstand extreme conditions.

Sports and Recreation: Polycarbonate is commonly used in sports equipment, including protective gear like helmets and face shields, as well as in safety goggles and sunglass lenses.

Learn more about PC machining: https://www.worthyhardware.com/cnc-machining-pc/



PTFE, commonly known by the brand name Teflon®, is a versatile fluoropolymer with exceptional chemical resistance and non-stick properties.PTFE is a synthetic polymer composed of carbon and fluorine atoms.

It possesses a unique structure that results in remarkable properties. PTFE is a white, solid material with a low coefficient of friction and excellent resistance to chemicals, heat, and moisture



Chemical Resistance: PTFE is highly resistant to a wide range of chemicals, acids, and solvents.

Non-Stick Properties: PTFE has an extremely low surface energy, resulting in excellent non-stick properties.

Low Friction: PTFE has an extremely low coefficient of friction, resulting in reduced wear and frictional resistance.



Difficult to Process: PTFE has a high melting point and is difficult to process compared to other thermoplastics.

Limited Strength: PTFE has relatively low tensile strength and impact resistance compared to other engineering plastics. It may not be suitable for applications that require high mechanical strength or impact resistance.



Chemical Processing: PTFE is extensively used in the chemical industry for lining pipes, valves, and vessels. Its exceptional chemical resistance ensures the safe handling and containment of corrosive substances.

Food Processing: PTFE’s non-stick properties make it valuable in the food processing industry. It is used for non-stick cookware, baking sheets, conveyor belts, and gaskets, ensuring easy release of food products and facilitating cleaning.

Mechanical Engineering: PTFE’s low friction and self-lubricating properties find applications in mechanical engineering. It is used for bearings, bushings, gears, seals, and sliding components to reduce friction and improve overall system efficiency.

Learn more about PTFE machining: https://www.worthyhardware.com/cnc-machining-teflon/



HDPE, short for High-Density Polyethylene,is a type of polyethylene characterized by its high density and linear structure.



Excellent chemical resistance.

High impact strength.

UV resistance.


Moisture resistance.



Temperature sensitivity.

Limited rigidity.



HDPE is commonly used in packaging applications, such as bottles, containers, and plastic bags. HDPE pipes and fittings are extensively used in water supply, drainage, and underground gas pipelines. Their high strength, corrosion resistance, and flexibility make them reliable for long-lasting and leak-free pipe networks.

Learn more about PE machining: https://www.worthyhardware.com/cnc-machining-polyethylene-pe/



LDPE, short for Low-Density Polyethylene, is a versatile thermoplastic known for its flexibility, toughness, and excellent impact resistance.LDPE is a type of polyethylene with a lower density and branched structure, resulting in a more flexible and less rigid material. It is produced through the polymerization of ethylene at low pressure.



Easy Machinability: LDPE is highly machinable, meaning it can be easily cut, shaped, drilled, and engraved using various cutting tools and techniques. Its soft and flexible nature allows for efficient machining processes.

Excellent Impact Resistance: It can withstand the forces and vibrations associated with cutting processes without compromising its structural integrity.

Low Friction Coefficient: This property helps prevent the build-up of excess heat and friction, resulting in improved cutting efficiency and reduced tool wear.



Limited Temperature Resistance: It may deform or melt at high temperatures, making it unsuitable for cutting applications that involve extreme heat or thermal exposure.

Lower Strength: LDPE has lower tensile strength and stiffness compared to high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or other engineering plastics.



LDPE is widely used for cutting boards, gaskets and seals, display signage, Craft and DIY Projects.


10. PVC

PVC, short for Polyvinyl Chloride, is a synthetic polymer made from the polymerization of vinyl chloride monomers. It can be rigid or flexible, depending on the additives used during its production.



Durability: PVC is highly durable and long-lasting; it can withstand harsh weather conditions, chemicals, and physical stress without significant degradation.

Versatility: PVC is available in various forms, including pipes, fittings, sheets, films, and profiles.

Cost-effectiveness: PVC is a cost-effective material due to its abundance, ease of manufacturing, and low production costs.

Electrical Insulation: PVC is an excellent electrical insulator, making it suitable for wiring, cables, and electrical components. Its insulating properties help prevent electrical shocks and ensure the safe transmission of electricity.



Environmental Impact: PVC production involves the use of chlorine and plasticizers, which can have environmental implications if not properly managed. Recycling PVC can also be challenging due to its composition.

Thermal Stability: PVC has a lower thermal stability compared to some other engineering plastics. It may soften or deform at high temperatures, limiting its use in applications with elevated temperatures.



Construction: PVC is extensively used in the construction industry for pipes, fittings, window profiles, flooring, and roofing membranes.

Healthcare: PVC is widely used in the healthcare industry for medical tubing, blood bags, IV bags, and various medical devices.

Electrical and Electronics: PVC is utilized in electrical wiring, cables, insulation, and connectors due to its excellent electrical insulating properties

Learn more about PVC machining: https://www.worthyhardware.com/cnc-machining-pvc/


11. UHMW

UHMW (Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene) is a type of polyethylene with an exceptionally high molecular weight, resulting in a dense and durable material. It is produced through a process called gel spinning or sintering, which aligns and strengthens the polymer chains. UHMW exhibits superior toughness and impact resistance compared to other polyethylene grades.



Excellent Wear Resistance: UHMW has outstanding wear resistance, even in highly abrasive environments.

High Impact Strength: UHMW possesses exceptional impact strength, making it resistant to fractures and breakage. It can withstand high-velocity impacts without losing its structural integrity, ensuring reliable performance in demanding applications.

Low Coefficient of Friction: UHMW exhibits a low coefficient of friction, comparable to that of PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene).

Self-Lubricating: UHMW possesses self-lubricating properties, helping minimize maintenance requirements and ensures smooth operation in high-friction environments.



Limited Temperature Range: UHMW has a lower melting point compared to some other engineering plastics.

Difficult to Bond: UHMW can be challenging to bond using conventional adhesives due to its high molecular weight and low surface energy. Special surface treatments or mechanical fastening methods may be required for effective bonding.



Manufacturing and Engineering: UHMW is used in manufacturing and engineering applications such as gears, bearings, bushings, and wear strips

Material Handling: UHMW is employed in material handling equipment, including conveyor belts, chutes, and guide rails. Its low friction properties and high impact strength facilitate efficient movement of materials without damage or excessive wear.

Sports and Recreation: UHMW is employed in sports and recreational equipment such as ski bases, snowboard surfaces, and skate park components.


12. PP

PP (Polypropylene) is a versatile thermoplastic known for its excellent chemical resistance, high strength-to-weight ratio, and cost-effectiveness. PP is a synthetic polymer made from propylene monomers. It is a highly versatile material available in different forms, including sheets, films, fibers, and molded parts.



Chemical Resistance: PP is highly resistant to a wide range of chemicals, acids, and solvents.

Lightweight: PP has a low density, making it a lightweight material.

High Strength-to-Weight Ratio: PP exhibits excellent strength and rigidity despite its lightweight nature.



Temperature Sensitivity: PP has a lower melting point compared to some other engineering plastics. It may deform or melt at high temperatures, limiting its use in applications involving elevated temperatures.

UV Degradation: PP is susceptible to UV degradation, which can cause color fading and reduced mechanical properties over time. UV stabilizers or additives are often used to mitigate this effect in outdoor applications.



Packaging: PP is extensively used in packaging applications such as food containers, bottles, caps, and films.

Textiles: PP fibers are used in various textile applications, including carpets, upholstery, and geotextiles. Its moisture resistance, durability, and low cost make it a popular choice in the textile industry.

Consumer Goods: PP is found in a wide range of consumer goods, including toys, household products, and appliances.

Learn more about PP machining: https://www.worthyhardware.com/cnc-machining-pp/


13. Bakelite

Bakelite is a historic thermosetting plastic that played a significant role in the development of modern plastics.

Bakelite, also known as polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride, is a type of phenolic resin. Belgian-born American chemist Leo Baekeland developed it in the early 20th century. Bakelite is formed through the reaction of phenol and formaldehyde, resulting in a hard, rigid, and heat-resistant material.



High Heat Resistance

Electrical Insulation

High Rigidity



Brittle Nature: Bakelite is a relatively brittle material compared to some other plastics. It can be prone to cracking or breaking under high impact or stress conditions.

Limited Design Flexibility: Bakelite’s production process, which involves molding and curing, limits its design flexibility compared to more modern plastics that can be shaped using injection molding or other advanced techniques.



Electrical Components: Bakelite was extensively used in electrical components such as switches, sockets, insulators, and connectors due to its excellent electrical insulation properties.

Consumer Goods: Bakelite was used in the production of a range of consumer goods, such as radios, telephones, kitchenware, jewelry, and buttons. Its durability and aesthetic appeal contributed to its popularity in these items.

Industrial Applications: Bakelite was utilized in industrial applications, including machinery components, gears, and tool handles, where its heat resistance and strength were valued.

Methods of CNC Cutting Plasic

CNC (Computer Numerical Control) cutting is a precise and efficient method for shaping and machining plastic materials. With the advancement of technology, several methods have been developed to achieve accurate and clean cuts in plastic using CNC machines. Let’s explore some common methods used for CNC cutting plastic


CNC Milling

CNC Milling is a widely used CNC cutting method for plastic materials. It involves rotating a cutting tool, typically a milling cutter while moving it along multiple axes to remove material and create the desired shape.There is 3 axis, 4 axis, and 5 axis .


The cutting tool rotates at high speeds during milling and engages with the plastic workpiece. As the tool moves along multiple axes, it removes material in the form of chips, shaping the plastic into the desired form. The cutting action occurs due to the sharp edges of the milling cutter, which shear through the plastic, resulting in the desired shape.


Considerations for cutting plastic materials:

Heat Buildup: Plastic materials have a lower thermal conductivity compared to metals, making them prone to heat buildup during milling. Excessive heat can cause melting or deformation of the plastic. Controlling cutting speeds and feed rates is essential to prevent excessive heat generation.

Chip Evacuation: Efficient chip evacuation is important to prevent re-cutting and material buildup, which can affect the quality of the cut and the performance of the tool. Proper chip evacuation methods should be employed, such as air blowers or coolant.

Surface Finish: Plastic materials may require a specific surface finish. Selecting the appropriate cutting parameters, tool path strategies, and finishing operations (such as using fine-grit cutters or post-processing techniques) can help achieve the desired surface quality.


Laser cutting

Laser cutting is a highly precise and efficient method used in CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining to cut through various materials, including plastic. It utilizes a high-powered laser beam focused onto the surface of the plastic to melt, vaporize, or burn the material, creating clean and precise cuts.



A focused laser beam with high energy density is directed onto the plastic surface in laser cutting. The intense heat generated by the laser beam rapidly heats and melts the material along the programmed cutting path. The motion of the laser and/or workpiece facilitates the cutting process, resulting in accurate and intricate shapes.


Considerations for cutting plastic materials:

Material Compatibility: Different plastic materials have varying responses to laser cutting. Factors such as the material’s composition, thickness, and color can influence the cutting process. Choosing the appropriate laser type (CO2 or fiber) and adjusting the parameters accordingly for optimal results is essential.

Edge Quality: The quality of the laser-cut edges can vary depending on the plastic material and laser parameters. Some plastics may produce smoother edges, while others may exhibit slight melting or discoloration. Fine-tuning the cutting parameters can help achieve desired edge quality.


Waterjet cutting

Waterjet cutting employs a high-pressure jet of water mixed with abrasive particles to erode and cut through the plastic material.



In waterjet cutting, a stream of pressurized water, typically at pressures ranging from 30,000 to 90,000 pounds per square inch (psi), is forced through a small nozzle. Abrasive particles, such as garnet, are often added to the water stream to enhance the cutting efficiency. The abrasive particles accelerate erosion, allowing the water jet to cut through the plastic.


Considerations for cutting plastic materials:

Abrasive Selection: The selection of the abrasive material depends on the plastic being cut. Different plastics may require different abrasive types and sizes to achieve optimal cutting results. Careful consideration should be given to prevent excessive wear or damage to the material surface.

Cost: Waterjet cutting can be a relatively expensive cutting method due to the equipment, maintenance, and consumables involved, such as the abrasive particles.


Plasma cutting

Plasma cutting utilizes a high-temperature plasma arc directed at the plastic material to melt and remove the material, resulting in precise cuts.



Plasma cutting involves generating an electrically conductive plasma arc by passing a high-velocity gas, such as nitrogen or compressed air, through a small nozzle. The plasma arc reaches extremely high temperatures, melting the plastic material in its path. Simultaneously, a high-velocity gas stream blows away the molten plastic, resulting in a clean cut.


Considerations for cutting plastic materials:

Heat Affected Zone: Plasma cutting generates heat, which can result in a heat-affected zone (HAZ) on the plastic material. The extent of the HAZ depends on factors such as the cutting speed, plasma gas selection, and plastic material properties. Care should be taken to minimize the HAZ, especially when cutting thermally sensitive plastics.

Fumes and Ventilation: Plasma cutting can generate fumes and smoke, especially when cutting certain types of plastic materials. Adequate ventilation and appropriate exhaust systems are essential to ensure a safe working environment and minimize exposure to potentially harmful byproducts.


Choose Worthy Hardware for your Plastic CNC cutting

When it comes to plastic CNC cutting, Worthy Hardware is your trusted partner. From our expertise and cutting-edge facilities to our diverse material options and commitment to quality, we deliver outstanding results.

Choose Worthy Hardware for your plastic CNC cutting needs and unlock the possibilities of precision and excellence. Contact us today to discuss your requirements, and let us bring your plastic CNC-cutting projects to life.