Step-by-step on How to Cut Acrylic

Acrylic sheet is a versatile engineering material in many industries today. However many are still wondering on the best mechanism to cut acrylic sheet.

Well, in this article, we will explore all the fundamental aspects on how you can cut acrylic.

How to Cut Acrylic Sheet in Simple Steps

Collect Tools and Materials

Before beginning the process collect all the materials or tools. The key tools and materials are:

  • Cutting Tools
  • Measuring Tools
  • Face Masks
  • Marking Tools
  • Acrylic Material
  • Gloves
  • Goggles

Setup Work Area

  • For effective working cleanliness, higher stability, and proper flatness are highly important.
  • To avoid damaging the surface you need to place a foil on the working surface
  • Keep up the good air circulation for effective and high-end working output

Finalize Measurements and Markings

The precise cuts require the exact measurements and markings:

  • Employ a ruler or a measuring tape to take accurate measurements
  • Next, mark with the help of a pencil or markers
  • Cross-check your markings to eliminate the chance of errors

Selection of Right Cutting Tool

Choose an appropriate tool either depending on the cut type or on the sheet thickness level:

  1. Please note that the knife is perfect for cutting only thin acrylic sheets that are < 1/4 inch
  2. When working with acrylic sheets that have a medium-level thickness (1/4 – 1/2 inch). Then, make use of a handsaw
  3. For thicker acrylic sheets with greater thickness than 1/2 inch. Utilise the laser or table saws

Focus on the Complexity of Cut

  1. For simple cutting, you can choose any tool including the table saw, knife, or a table saw
  2. On the other hand, the curvy type of cuts make use of the jigsaw, scroll saw, or coping saw
  3. Lastly, you need to use the laser cutter if you want highly detailed cuts. This offers unmatchable precision and fineness

Cutting Tool Installation/Setup

The fifth step involves the setting up of the cutting tool in the following ways:

Tweak the Depth of the Cut

Maintain the depth of the cut as per the thickness of the sheet. Wrong or incorrect depth can lead you to face higher friction. The higher friction ultimately leads to the development of higher heat. This can eventually lead you to meet the sheet wrapping or melting.

Utilize the Fine Blade

Fix or set the proper blade size for your saw or tool. Please note that the finer blade allows you to experience a smooth level of cutting.

Fix the Workpiece (Acrylic)

Before starting the cutting process, fix the acrylic sheet or material. This prevents the movement of the workpiece during cutting. Hence, in the end, it leads you to fine-quality end-cutting.

Process of Acrylic Cutting With Different Tools:

You can cut acrylic in a variety of ways. These ways include hand tools as well as automated tools, including:

Utilizing Hand Tools:

Acrylic Cutting with Knife

Apply the knife to the marking or measurements. Maintain the appropriate level of pressure for neat cutting. After scoring the marking, snap the acrylic sheet from the marking. This will isolate the sheet by hand from the scoring or cutting mark.

 Acrylic Cutting Knife
Acrylic Cutting Knife

Acrylic Cutting with Hand Saw

First, fix the acrylic sheet with the help of a clamp or on a workbench. Make sure the sheet doesn’t move during the cutting. Now, use the hand saw on the measured or marked area. Make sure to keep the speed at an optimum level.

Acrylic Cutting With Jigsaw

For minor curve cutting, you can make use of the jigsaw. In this cutting, you must place the acrylic sheet on the workbench or clamp it on a stable surface.

Acrylic Cutting with Jigsaw
Acrylic Cutting with Jigsaw

This will result in zero movement of acrylic while cutting. On the turning area, move it slowly to prevent chipping or cracking.

Utilizing Power Tools

Acrylic Cutting With Table Saw

For achieving longer and straight cuts, the table saw is ideal. You can change the blade depending on the thickness of the acrylic material. The table provides a space to put the acrylic sheet or material on. Pass the material towards the place consistently to get fine cuts.

Acrylic Cutting with Table Saw
Acrylic Cutting with Table Saw

Acrylic Cutting With Laser

These cutters refer to the supreme cutters. The quality of the cut by laser cutter is unmatchable and remarkable. This cutter features complete automation. You need to add the cutting design to the software. The laser then follows the fed-cutting path. No human effort is involved in this cutting. These cutters are efficient and effective.

Laser Cutting Acrylic
Laser Cutting Acrylic

Smoothing Out the Edges

The smoothness of the acrylic sheet is essential to ensure the perfect fit and prevent injuries while handling.

Polish Out Edges Using Flame

Using the flame polish, you can make the edges smooth and add shine to them. The option exists to use a butane or propane torch as per your suitability or needs. This torch generates heat, which removes or merges the rough edges into the surface bed.

Flame Polishing Acrylic
Flame Polishing Acrylic

Please note, avoid overheating when using this type of smoothing, as it can result in blisters over the surface. You can also experience the melting of sheets.

Fine Up Edges with Sander

A sandpaper featuring coarse-level grit can assist in removing all types or forms of roughness or burrs. First, use coarse grit sandpaper and fine grit sandpaper for good smoothing results on sheet edges. Avoid using a water stream or wet sandpaper to prevent the build-up of heat.

Cleaning The Acrylic

You need to employ effective cleaning to create a fine-quality acrylic end product. For this, you must remove or clean out the particles, dust, debris, or shavings. Do this before applying the silicone to your acrylic. You can use a brush or even a soft cloth if there is a tough stain or residue on the sheet. Then, you can apply a mild soap solution and water. Avoid utilizing gritty cleaners or harsh chemicals. This is because they can harm your acrylic material.

Assess the Quality of the Cut

Check for any odds or imperfections that exist on your acrylic sheet. You can check for quality by observing the straightness, smoothness, or consistencies. Do this for the entire length of the acrylic sheet cut. If any such thing exists, follow the seventh step. Following this step, you can ensure the highest level of quality.

Dealing With Waste Disposal

The last or final step in the acrylic cutting process is waste disposal. It is good if you recycle the waste rather than disposing it. These waste materials may include offcuts, chips, shavings, scraps, used blades, etc. Employ disposal as per the guidelines or rules of the community waste handling department. Do not throw or add this waste into the water or on the land. Acting on this step, you can cut off your ecological footprint. You can also save the environment for future generations as well as animals.

Key Notables to Achieve Effective Acrylic Cutting

Focus On Acrylic Type and Thickness

The kind and thickness of the material are vital in cutting acrylic. Various cutting techniques may be required for diverse sorts of acrylic, i.e., extruded or cast. The cutting tools should be more potent at lower cutting speeds to prevent the melting or chipping of the thicker acrylic sheets.

Stay Safe

To put safety as the first aspect while working with acrylic. It is crucial to utilize protection equipment including goggles, gloves, face masks, etc.  These equipments ensure effective protection from flying dust, debris, etc. Apart from this, maintain good aeration at the workspace.

Select Proper Cutting Tools and Blades

Choosing the appropriate cutting tools and blades is essential for clean and accurate cuts. For straight cutting, a table or circular saw with an acrylic-designed, fine-toothed blade is ideal. On the other hand, a fretsaw with a blade only made for acrylics is perfect for cutting curved parts.

Setup Good Work Area

Prepare a clean and well-lit workspace for the best cutting conditions. Stabilize the work surface and make sure it is level to avoid injury. Place your cutting tools and materials close, and arrange the working area to ensure a free flow of operations and functionality of the cutting process.

Measurements and Markings

The precision of cuts is achieved using exact marking and measuring. Using a pencil or masking tape, mark the cutting lines on the acrylic sheet, making sure they can be easily seen. Always measure twice before cutting and hence avoid the expensive mistakes of fabric wastage.

Correct Cutting Technique

The correct cutting technique is the main factor for getting clean, accurate cuts through acrylic. While cutting straight lines, keep your hand steady and lead the cutting tool along the marked line at the same pace. When making curved cuts, use slow and controlled moves to create the shape required without losing the right direction.

Final Edge Finishing

In the cutting, acrylic edges may arrive at roughness or unevenness. For smooth and polished edges, you can sand the cut edges gently with sandpaper or use a deburring tool. On the other hand, flame polishing can be applied to obtain a shiny look on the edges of acrylic sheets.

Output Quality

After finishing the cutting process, you must conduct a strict level inspection to ensure premium quality. Determine the existence of any cracks, rough edges, formation of chips, etc. A proper inspection helps you maintain and achieve a higher-end quality.

If you are looking for cut-to-size acrylic sheets, WEPROFAB is the partner you can always trust – request a quote now.

More resources:

Laser Cutting Acrylic – Source: WEETECT

Cutting Acrylic Sheet – Source: Source: WEETECT

Acrylic Fabrication – Source: WEPROFAB

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