An Easy Guide To Understanding The Process Of Plastic Machining

Plastic machining is a broad field that encompasses many different technologies and techniques. It comprises the various processes used in manufacturing plastic products, such as injection molding, extrusion, sheet metal forming, and blow molding. These processes are used to make plastic products, such as bottles, signs, car parts, melamine, etc. However, how do these processes work, and what factors are considered?

What Is Plastic Machining?

Plastic machining is a process that involves the production of metal parts from plastic, called a polymer. The method includes cutting, drilling, forming, milling, heat treatment, and polishing. The process can be done in many different ways that come in different shapes and sizes depending on the customer’s needs. Plastic machining is highly versatile because you can produce parts in any form or size with just a few clicks on your computer screen. The process is usually done to create complex or large plastic pieces such as cars, furniture, and appliances. The main advantages of plastic machining are high-speed and high-quality pieces that can be made with less waste than other methods such as injection molding.

What Materials Are Used For Plastic Machining?

In recent years, the use of plastics has been increasing everywhere. The most common type of plastic used in manufacturing is polyethylene terephthalate (PET). It is thermoplastic which means it can be molded by heat to the desired shape. Most types of plastic are flexible and can be easily shaped to fit many different uses. However, numerous other plastics can be used, including high-tech plastics like vespel sp 1 and others of the Vespel family. The problem with plastics, however, is that machining them can be difficult. Yet, plastic still features among the most common materials used to make machined products because of its flexibility in application and shape versatility. Plastics also have many advantages in manufacturing, including:

  • Superior strength-to-weight ratios to other materials.
  • A more comprehensive range of insulation properties such as vibration as well as thermal and electrical.
  • Improved corrosion and chemical resistance.

How Are Plastics Machined?

There is a range of machines dedicated to the successful machining of plastics used in different industries. Some examples include:

  • Extruder machines
  • Injection molding machines
  • Film blowing machines
  • Blow molding machines
  • CNC milling machines

Each machine will serve a different purpose. For example, certain medical implements might need the precision that CNC milling provides, whereas car dashboards may require injection molding machines, etc. You can divide plastic machinery into four broad categories: 

  1. Plastic compounding machinery: Compounding machinery is used to produce various types of plastic compounds.
  2. Plastic molding machinery: This is used to mold plastic products, including compression and injection molding.
  3. Plastic secondary processing machinery: Post-processing and reprocessing of plastics are carried out by secondary processing machinery.
  4. Plastic processing auxiliary machinery: These are devices that feed the material into the processing machinery and must be able to meter out specific amounts of material. 

Plastic Machining: Considerations To Take Into Account

It’s essential to consider the risks of plastic machining as well as the benefits. The risk of plastic machining is that if there is a malfunction or a machine breaks down, you can cause serious damage to humans and the environment. The benefits of plastic machining include being able to reuse waste materials to create new products. Aside from these advantages and disadvantages, there are other considerations you must take into account before gearing up to machine plastic materials.

Type Of Plastic

Different chemical combinations produce other physical properties, affecting everything from the strength of the material to its chemical stability. In selecting a plastic material for a machined item, you should consider these variables since they will affect the polymer’s ability to hold up under manufacturing pressures and the final product’s ability to sustain the stresses of its intended function.

Heat Regulation

Plastics can be heated to the desired temperature and then cooled off rapidly, which will cause them to take on the shape of this process. Therefore, if a polymer will withstand machining, it must be adequately regulated using coolants.

Support Structures

Due to plastic’s reduced stiffness, vibrations from conventional machining are more likely to produce burrs, cracks, and chatter marks. In order to limit possible damage to the finished product, additional support structures are incorporated during the machining process. This might include allowing for some movement during the machining process within predetermined tolerances.


It might also be necessary to employ processes that finish machined plastics to a desirable degree, based on the requirements of your end customer. This can include machinery and operators who polish, remove burrs or coat the final product, etc.

Plastic Machining Applications

The benefits of Plastic Machining are that it is cost-effective and can be easily automated with machine technologies. Some applications of Plastic Machining include metal-plastic composite parts, automotive components, aerospace parts, medical devices, and others.

Medical Devices

Plastics are used extensively in the medical industry and plastic machining is one of the best choices for medical components and devices because of its high level of accuracy. These can range from syringes to catheters and even to the plastic handles on scalpels. Digital design files can easily be changed or manipulated to achieve the desired outcome depending on the specific use case of the device. 

The Food And Beverage Industry

To manufacture quality food and beverage products, manufacturers need parts that are strong enough to last for a long time and safe enough to come in contact with food. This often requires the use of food-grade plastics, which demand a delicate balance between volume and precision.

Semiconductor Components

Semiconductive components have an electrical conductivity that falls between that of a conductor and that of an insulator. These parts, such as diodes, integrated circuits, transistors, and others, are utilized in various electronic devices. They’re shockproof, usually small, and must usually endure for nearly a lifetime. Semiconductor parts and assemblies are often very intricate, and their surface finishes must be remarkably smooth and polished. Using plastic machining for the manufacture of such components is ideal due to its precision and mechanical strength.


The automotive industry uses a plethora of plastic parts that need to be durable, flexible, and be able to be created in large volumes. 

The plastic machining process is the process of machining plastic using tools and techniques to create shapes using plastic. These machines are used in various industries. These include medicine, electronics, consumer goods, etc. Hopefully, you now understand this process and how vital it is to create the different products used every day.