V4 Sheets – Cutting methods
Here we are gonna start sharing all the tests, experiments and ideas we have around the world of cutting plastic sheets. The idea is that every time somebody tries a new cutting method or tool we post it here showing our experience and the conclusions we gather from it. Everybody is welcome to contribute with their experiences, questions or suggestions 🙂
Also, make sure to subscribe to the following threads if you are interested in the materia:
– Machine Development
– Sheets – Interesting results
Cutting HDPE Sheets
Objective: Exploring different cutting tools and techniques.
Tools: Jigsaw, Miter Saw, Table saw<b>.</b>
Process:– I used Jigsaw with plastic cutting blades. Continuous push and faster movement results in a smoother cut. Blades with different orientation of teeth gives different output. Because of it’s high density the blade might get stuck in the material if moved slowly. Leaves decent finish after cutting, but needs sanding for better result.
– Using miter saw was a great success. Plastic cutting blade works perfect. Faster you run the machine smoother the result is. HDPE leaves only a bit of plastic dust due to cutting but no melted or sticky plastic on the machine. The dust can be removed easily. The finishing of the cutting edge of the plastic is already quite nice.
– Table saw worked the best because of its speed. Using Plastic cutting blade is a must. It made very smooth cut. No fume or melted plastic on the blade. Perfect for big piece of sheets.
Conclusion:– The result generally does not require polishing after cutting it.
– It does not melt at the edge due to the friction with the cutting blade.
– No bad fume while cutting.
– Almost feels like cutting a wooden plank.
– Leaves a little bit of plastic dust on the machine, but it is really easy to remove as it is not sticky.
– The faster the better. Table saw and miter saw gives smoother output.
Test: Trying to cut PP with the Mitter saw
Objective: Cut one sheet into small beams
Tools: Caliper, pencil, clamps, mitter saw, sanding machine.
This is a very straight forward test of how does the Jigsaw work with PP. For this test we are going to use a regular wood saw. The first thing I noticed is that you can easily tell by the side of the samples that the end result is too rough and needs to be polished. Through iteration I discovered that the smoother you make the cuts the cleaner it gets the result. But still needs to be polished because of the saw.
The saw will need to be cleaned after few cuts since it gets super dirty after every cut.The jigsaw is not the best for long cuts. That’s not the purpose of this machine.The smoother you make the cut the cleaner it gets. Preferably by one cut.
Test: Trying to cut multiple sheets at once.
Objective: Speed up the cutting process
Tools: Caliper, pencil, clamps, Jigsaw, sanding machine, chisel and hammer.
In order to speed the process we wanted to try to make an inner cut over four sheets of PP at once. First we clamp them all together. Then we sand the sides in order to have them all equal. After that we clamp it to the table. Then we made 4 cuts with the jigsaw. And finished the cut with a chisel and a hammer.
– When you try to cut it with the Jigsaw the plastic melts by friction and the cut is imprecise.
– After cutting the 4 pieces just became a block and we had to separate them.
– The chisel is useful but pretty fragile when working with PP.
– After the second piece the cut is not in the right place anymore.
– Bad idea in general to cut with the jigsaw 4 plates at once. Table saw would be more ideal.
Test: Trying to cut PS with the Jigsaw
Objective: Trying to find the best cutting method.
Tools: Pencil, Jigsaw, Handsaw,
PS is very interesting because it could be transparent and it’s very rigid. What makes it different from PP and HDPE. However it’s tougher to cut, and very fragile. The process itself it’s been straight forward, mark where to cut, and start cutting. Seems easy, but the reality is that was hard as F to go from one side to the other and unfortunately nothing happened. The blade melted both sides of the plate so they got welded immediately after. I used a wood blade that’s why.
– When you try to cut with the Jigsaw the plastic melts by friction and the cut is imprecise.
– Too much friction on the walls of the cut ended up welding the parts together again.
– When trying to use the hammer to detach both parts PS brakes.
– Best blade or machine or technique has to be found to cut PS.
Test: Trying to cut circles out of PP and HDPE
Objective: Apply wood hole saw to plastic
Material: PP & HDPE
Tools: Hole saw, drilling machine
In order to do holes I tried a regular wood hole saw, and it was relatively easy to cut on both but unfortunately It leaves marks on the sides due to the tool. While cutting, the machine gets really messy. Also the tool gets hot really easy and little deformations could appear, some flakes got welded to the surface. And that took a while to clean afterwards.
– The tool is not the correct one, too many imperfections on the process.
– Will have to find a bettter one.
– HDPE worked better than PP (I think because it’s stronger)
Coming from a CNC background I can see that your machine speed is too high to cut plastic. You need actually a much lower speed to cut. Possibly even 2-300rpm with that many teeth of a circular saw blade.
Alternately you can try a bandsaw on its slowest setting and water as a lubricant. Maybe a meat bandsaw with its more waterproof parts?
Meat bandsaws are common worldwide even here in the Philippines.
Hi everyone !
I dont have a lot of practice with plastic but I’ve got a lot of ideas to test. So I share it to you, hoping it will be useful for someone.
-Plastic is very soft, so I think some very sharpened blade with no many teeth and a slow cutting speed but a great pressure will avoid to melt it. Maybe a sort of paper cutter, used for thick stack of paper like books, will be usable for linear cutting.
-water-cutter is used for cutting all type of things wich cnc steel blades cant cut because of the “agressivity” of the blades. But its not very affordable.
BUT ! I’ve saw some video of people making it with pressure washer, by modifing a few pieces. And there also a lot of documentation to make cheap 2 axis base drive by computer to make things like laser engraver. So Its possible to mix the two, to make a CNC waterjet cutter for cheap if someone have the knowledge and the time to build it.
What do you think ?
edit : And maybe its possible to create some mold by creating some stronger and sharper cookie cutter, to press it on the plastic plate and quickly cut some pieces ?
Hi, @btmetz. Thanks for the reply, Actually right now we are trying to find the best circular saw to cut plastic plates easy and clean. Definitely the mitter saw is not the best for cutting long straight cuts so we are going to focus only on the table saw.
Having said that, later I will post what we are doing and some results.
And yes definitely, a band saw seems to be a decent option to cut plastic as well. We’ll try to dig in as well, thanks for the comment.
Hello, @benj. Thanks for the suggestion, yes definitely water cutting is cool, but not very accessible and since we have limited options to try I’m afraid we are not going to be able to explore it much. And regarding the good parameters for the blades, from my short experience I would say that something between 50 to 70 teeth (for 200cm diammeter blade) seems to be a good number. And fast cutting speed works better for HDPE and PP while medium cutting speeds works better for PS.
If you want to cut plastic with a cnc (means spindle) you need singleflute endmills and a high moving speed and a relative low spindle rpm. Look on you youtube for cutting acrylic with cnc.
Concerning plasticdust while cutting, you can add a vacuum cleaner to not let it go in the nature.
hey @imuh, Good point, unfortunately hot wire, or hot knifes seems to give less than ideal cuts when cutting thick plates or at least that’s the theory. Would be really interesting to see it though. Indeed when cutting with circular saws it makes so much flakes but that could be fixed with a proper vacuuming system
Following the post I wrote the other day, I’ve been recommended that negative or 0º hook angles tend to work better. Also (for a given 25cm blade) configurations around 80 teeth seems to work best for thin plates up to 15mm. If the plate is around 20mm or superior the blade needs more space to retire the chips and that means less teeth, something around 60 teeth.
Talking about the family of blades, tungsten carbide chips blades are always recommended. But there are few types that seems to work best inside that family than others. Triple chip blades grind (TCG) are preffered (pic 1). But also I got recommended to try a variaton of that wich has two types of angled teeth (pic2).
Still have to find what is the difference between them and then try them out.
Soon I will update a final choose and the reasons behind it. Therefore I will jump into find the best blade for the jigsaw.
I use a ordinary circular saw to cut thick sheets of HDPE for my CNC.
This is a example of this tool
Hello @btmetz, that’s also an alternative to the table saw for straight cuts. Would you please be so kind to show me more or less which blade are you using and which are results you are getting so far?
I’ve been trying different blades this week and some works better than other but still haven’t achieved a clean clean cut. The blade “B” (mentioned few comments above) makes decent cuts for PP and HDPE but still needs to be polished after. Which I think its unavoidable even though we find the most suited blade for it.
PS it’s a little bit harder to cut and still don’t know what it’s the best way to approach it yet.
Let me know your thoughts. 🙂
Following the thread I’ve been testing with the hand-router to see how does it feels to use it for plastics. As always PP, HDPE and PS. And the results are kinda conclusive.
TEST A – First I tried regular router bits (ment for wood). The result on HDPE and PP are not that bad, sort of clean, very few melting spots detected. Not the perfect cut but reliable if there is nothing else around. Decent edges. But for PS seems that it just doesn’t work. Lots of melting made the process unstable and also unhealthy because of the fumes. (Very high cutting speed for the HDPE and PP around 30.000rpm)
TEST B – Then I tried a tool that would be generally used in the CNC to cut plastic and the results were much more precise. Worked very well for all the materials, including PS. No melting thanks to the polished surface that makes the chips fly away. (Medium cutting speed for HDPE and PP, around 21.500 to 25.000rpm) (Slow cutting speed for PS, 11.000rpm)
Okey, I have some results to share about cutting with the jigsaw. I found few interesting blades to work with that I’m sure will help somebody along the way.
– First I tried the T304H and got good results with HDPE and PP. Clean cut without melting and a sharp edge almost without scratches. But for PS got lots of melting again.
– Then I tried the T102BF and got similar results. To be honest I cannot tell you the differences between both cuts. Both really good for HDPE and PP and bad for PS.
– Finally I tested the T102D and got an interesting result. A little bit of scratches on the side but apart from that all good. Plus, is really fast, maybe good for fast jobs if the difference of quality is not that relevant. Still pretty clean cut. And I got a decent job with a 10mm PS plate. Clean cut without meltings but with quite a few scratches on the side of the cut. And on the top surface the blade is more likely to break some parts of the edge while cutting. So… not very sharp edge we could say. Then I tried with a 18mm plate and the result was totally different. Fully melted again and no way of achieving a clean cut. I wonder if with slower cutting speed would work out. But unfortunately ours doesn’t change that much the velocity from min to max.
Finding the best velocity (rpm) to cut with the table saw
Objective: Exploring different velocities with the plastic blade
Material: HDPE, PP, PS
Tools: Table saw, Plastic blade 222 from Oranje tools.
– First I used the original configuration 4500 rpm with the three materials. Trying first fast feeding against slow feeding speed to compare the results. With PP the results were bad in both slow and fast feeding. Same with PS. Pretty good results with HDPE.
– Then I changed the gears to a slower setting (3000 rpm) since there were pretty big melted areas. And made no sense to work at higher speed. The results were kinda impressive. PP worked the best with fast feeding. HDPE as well. And finally we got the cleanest cut of PS ever. All of them with pretty fast feeding which implies that you better clamp the piece to the table to make sure nothing moves during the cut. And also making sure the blade appears one finger above the plastic sheet.
– In general fast feed for all the materials works the best.
– 3000 rpm seems to be more suitable for plastics, especially for PP and PS.
– The blade works properly when placed slightly higher than normal. Around one finger above the top surface.
– The modified TCG blade with neg -3º cutting angle and 96 teeth works the best from all the testes made till now.
Quickly testing different settings on the Jigsaw
Objective: Exploring different velocities and modes on the Jigsaw
Material: HDPE, PP, PS
Tools: Jigsaw, T302H, T102D
I quickly wanted to try the pendulum mode since last time I didn’t use that into the test. I set the pendulum mode at the maximum level and rise up the velocity to the maximum. Then I proceed to cut on the three materials.
– For PS it’s the first time we cut 7mm plates without melting on the jigsaw. The downside is that on the top surface we have pretty brutal marks of chipping. even though the bottom is clean, and the cut as well.
– I tried also to cut thicker plates of PS (13mm) didn’t work out. Super hard. Difficult and completely melt again…
– For PP and HDPE turned out that I could cut much easier than before and that the control over the machine is much better. On the downside the cut surface gets few marks due to the fast feed I used. The best would be to find the balance between the feed and the pendulum modes.
@v-varella First, let me thank you for this thread documenting your project. Frequent posting of your progress and challenges provides an opportunity for the much larger community to learn and offer inputs as appropriate. I wish Dave Hakkens would set up a separate sub-forum where all the V4 projects could provide visibility into their progress or roadblocks.
As far as cutting sheets, it may help to estimate the cutting speed and feed rates and compare them to the industry guidelines. A quick search found this https://www.curbellplastics.com/Research-Solutions/Technical-Resources/Technical-Resources/Machining-Engineering-Plastics
but I’m sure there are many others.
I like the suggestion @btmetz made for using a circular saw. I think it would be relatively easy to make a panel cutting frame such as this https://www.homedepot.com/p/Milwaukee-15-Amp-8-1-4-in-Panel-Saw-6480-20/100077431 This could also be improved by adding a worm or belt drive that controls the feed rate. A speed controller for the saw motor may be feasible as well.
I wonder if the plastic cutting blades are optimized for thinner gage sheets and acceptable results could be obtained with much cheaper general purpose construction blades by optimizing the cutting speeds and feed rates (I use these in my miter saw and they seem to work well). This could also be aimed at generating recoverable chips rather than dust.
Thank you again for giving us visibility into your project, great work!
For cutting holes, I wonder if the beam type hole cutter might not be better. After reading your post, I went and tried it on a small HDPE panel I had. My cutter is low cost and I’ve used it for other things so it is not particularly sharp or optimized. Still, it has several some nice characteristics. It produces a continuous string as waste which is annoying but readily recoverable for recycling. Different cutter configurations could be used for different materials. The hole produced in HDPE is pretty smooth.
@s2019, little off but
I wish Dave Hakkens would set up a separate sub-forum where all the V4 projects could provide visibility into their progress or roadblocks.
yeah something like this would be a good boost for the community and beneficial for the more dedicated ones, … user workspaces with uplinks to a personalized bazar, etc.. unfortunately the v4 platform wont’ fix this things, so we have to wait quite some time til things get done this direction (horizontal structures,..). I just can hope these things are not buried by v4 afterall, looking at code and specs since a while. 🙂
all this trials here make me dream again about a steam powered workshop, just that all the parts are done and driven by PLASTIC, lol. keep going, good stuff
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