Jan 26, 2018 | Composite Machining, Machining, Materials, News
Best Practices for Plastics Machining Design
We’ve written at length in the past about how plastics machining design and working with composite machining in general is every bit as much an art as it is a science. The materials themselves are so malleable that your process itself must become the same – only then will you be able to both meet the unique needs of a client while leaving in the necessary amount of innovation required to really do groundbreaking work as well.
But at the same time, there are certain best practices that you can follow that guarantee the freedom you need to accomplish both of these things in one fell swoop – both the precision you need to meet client demands and the flexibility you need to create something truly special as well.
The Cooling Factor
At JMJ Profile, one of the most critical best practices that we follow every day in terms of composite machining has to do with the fact that we only use high-speed, multi-head machines that run “dry” – meaning that there are NO additional CNC fluids used to cool the machinery throughout the course of any particular job. There are a few different schools of thought on this – some companies choose to stamp out parts from composite materials, while others use lasers or even water-jets. While it’s true that all of these techniques offer an incredibly high level of accuracy, they also introduce a few key variables that we (and our clients) are unwilling to deal with.
First, we believe that running our machines “dry” helps to significantly maintain the full insulating value of the material – something that is as important to us as it is to our clients. Secondly, by eliminating CNC fluids and other variables we’re also able to provide cleaner edges, better finishers and tighter compliance with our own client specifications. When you look at things from that perspective, we really don’t see any other alternative.
Materials Matter Sooner Than You Think
Another one of the most critical best practices to understand is that the materials you’re working with need to be integrated as early into the design process as possible – they cannot be an afterthought to be addressed later. This is especially true when taking a look at the differences between composite machining using plastic materials versus metal ones.
These two processes share a lot in common from a logistical perspective, for example, but the end results can vary wildly. Plastics tend to be much, much more elastic than metals, for example, which makes them ideal for certain types of jobs over others. Plastics also tend to lose heat far less quickly than metals do, which means that localized overheating is an issue that you’ll need to consider in plastics machining that isn’t necessarily as big of a problem when working with metals.
Thermal expansion is also far greater with plastics than it is with metals – up to ten times greater, in fact, which is yet another factor you’ll have to consider as a natural part of the design process for the best results.
The JMJ Profile Approach
These are just a few of the major things that the team at JMJ Profile, Inc. thinks about all day, every day when doing important work for our clients around the country. Yes, experimentation is one of the strengths fo plastics machining design and composite machining in general and of course rules were made to be broken.
Having said that, there ARE a few key best practices that will serve you well if for no other reason than they your brain focused on the right mentality for the job ahead. If you’d like to find out more information, please don’t delay – contact JMJ Profile today.