Acrylic for Prototype Development on CNC Machines and 3D Printers

- Jul 10, 2018-

Acrylic is available in sheet stock and round stock, making it a good candidate for subtractive machining processes on a mill or lathe. A wide variety of colors are usually available. Acrylic sheets are also available in certain fluorescent colors. Sometimes these are referred to as “edge lit”. The color of the sheet is not as apparent when looking directly at the sheet, but the color really pops along the edges, almost looking like it is being illuminated, even though there is no light source.

Parts that are machined from clear stock usually require finish sanding and/or polishing to remove tool marks and to completely restore the transparent nature of the material. Acrylic sheets can be (relatively) easily heated and formed to a desired shape. Simple bends can be made by heating the bend point with a wire heater. Or, the entire sheet can be heated and draped or forced to take the shape of a desired form. Parts made from multiple pieces of Acrylic are usually joined together using solvents that melt each surface and result in a barely visible joint.

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Acrylic is also available as a filament for 3D printing (typically available as a transparent, white, or black filament).