Plastic meant for industrial and medical purposes can undergo a variety of treatments and methods once reserved for metal work. In fact, such grades or types of plastics can be machined in a manner similar to that employed with metal. Plastic machining does, however, have its own particularities. They require that a great deal of attention be paid to their physical properties.
What Is Plastic Machining?
Plastic machining is a skill that those who work in the metal trades regard as difficult and mysterious. Yet, the equipment used in the two trades is similar. The same can be said of the tools and even the techniques. What differs and creates a decisive gap between the two skills – metal and plastics is the material.
Plastic is not the same to work with as metal. It does not react to temperature or cutting tools in the same matter as metal does. In other words, plastic machining requires a different set of technical skills and material knowledge.
Factors Affecting Plastic Machining
While the basics of plastic machining remain the same, close attention is demanded by the qualities and physical properties of the material. When machining plastic, operators must be fully aware of and pay close attention to such factors as:
* Heat or Temperature: While most materials expand or grow in the presence of heat, plastics respond to temperature differently than metals do. In fact, in some cases, when heat is applied, some plastics can expand as much as much as five times the normal rate of metals in similar circumstances. The thermal expansion of plastics, therefore, dictates that operators do not recklessly employ high levels of heat.
Temperatures when incorrectly adjusted during plastic machining can also result in scorching of the material. It might also cause the plastic to melt resulting in a loss of time, energy and productivity.
* Tolerance Loss: The tolerance of plastic can be negatively affected by changes in temperature during or following the process of plastic machining.
* Moisture absorption: This characteristic of plastics makes it imperative that those in charge of machining plastics understand the effect it will have on a product. Some plastics simply absorb the moisture that is present in the air.
* Chemical Reactions: During the process of plastic machining, a rise in temperature can affect the materials reaction to chemicals that it would not have if the temperature remained the same.
Using plastic is one way many companies have of reducing the cost of their components and products. With the price of metal on the rise, it is no wonder they turn to other materials. Machining plastic is one more way companies have of trying to reduce costs while ensuring their products remain of the quality and standard that consumers and other clients demand.