Machinist's Toolkit
Machining plastics vs. metals

For their mechanical, chemical, and lightweight properties, plastics are increasingly replacing metals in a wide range of engineering applications. Many of the same machining methods used to fabricate metal parts are also used for plastics. However, best practices for machining plastics differ considerably from those for metals.

Plastics exhibit a number of properties that influence machining procedures, including:

  • Thermal expansion of plastics is up to 20 times greater than that of metals
  • Plastics lose heat more slowly than metals, increasing the risk of localized overheating
  • Softening and melting temperatures of plastics are much lower than metals
  • Plastics are much more elastic than metals

From material selection to proper tooling, from feed rates to stabilizing methods, part producers must weigh a range of factors in order to achieve good results when machining plastics. The following guidelines cover the most common plastic machining methods and provide useful tips and data for working with engineering polymers from Mitsubishi Chemical Group.

Read the overview below or download our Machinist’s Toolkit e-book, a complete fabrication guide including recommended speeds and tooling for a range of Mitsubishi Chemical Group materials.

The Machinist's Toolkit How to machine high-performance plastic parts
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