How do I cut and drill acrylic and polycarbonate?

Acrylic and polycarbonate sheet can be drilled using commercially available power driven equipment, such as portable drills, drill presses, lathes, or automatic multiple-spindle drilling units.

Drill bits manufactured specifically for plastics work best when drilling acrylic and polycarbonate sheet. Metal working, high-speed twist drill bits can be used with some minor modification. These drill bits are made to bite into metal when pushed. If used as is, metal working drill bits will chip acrylic sheet and they must be reground in order to scrape instead of biting or gouging the sheet. Alternatively, older drill bits that have seen a bit of work and aren’t’t too sharp on the corners may suffice.

When drilling, hold the work piece firmly or clamp it to the worktable. Backup the piece being drilled with MDF or plywood to prevent chipping or blowout of the bottom surface. This allows the drill bit to continue into solid material as it penetrates the bottom surface. Allow the bit to enter the material using a slow feed rate. Slowing the feed rate as the bit exits the bottom surface prevents chipping.

As this material is subject to expansion and contraction it is important to allow at least 1-2mm of clearance around the fastener. It is important not to allow the thread of the fastener to be hard up against the sheet particularly if the material will be used in an application subject to vibration.

Panels can be cut using power saws or jigsaws fitted with aluminium or other fine toothed blades

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