CNC Acrylic: A Guide to CNC Machining Acrylic Parts

guide to CNC acrylic

CNC machining is a popular manufacturing process used to create precision parts from various materials, including acrylic. Acrylic is a thermoplastic that can be molded into many different shapes and sizes, making it a popular choice for various applications. As a leading corporation in this field, in this guide, we will look at the basics of CNC acrylic machining and discuss some of the key benefits of using this process for your projects.

What Is Acrylic?

Acrylic is a clear plastic that is often suitable in place of glass. It is shatter-resistant and easily molded into different shapes, making it ideal for various applications. Acrylic is often suitable in picture frames, eyeglass lenses, and signs. It can also create jewelry, dishes, and other household items.

acrylic sheet

Properties Of Acrylic

Acrylic is a synthetic polymer that is used in a variety of applications. It is made from acrylonitrile, which is a monomer that is derived from propylene. Acrylic has many properties that make it an ideal material for various applications.

Some of the most notable properties of acrylic include the following:

1. High Strength and Durability

Acrylic is a very strong and durable material. It is resistant to shattering and breaking, making it an ideal choice for various applications.

2. Weather Resistance

Acrylic is also resistant to weathering and UV damage. This makes it an ideal material for outdoor applications such as signage and glazing.

3. Flame Resistance

Acrylic is a flame-resistant material, making it an ideal choice for various applications where fire safety is a concern.

4. Chemical Resistance

Acrylic is resistant to various chemicals, making it ideal for chemical processing and storage.

5. Transparency

Acrylic is a transparent material, making it an ideal choice for applications where optical clarity is desired.

6. Lightweight

Acrylic is a very lightweight material, making it an ideal choice for applications where weight is a concern.

7. Low Cost

Acrylic is a relatively low-cost material, making it an affordable choice for various applications.

8. Easy to Work With

Acrylic is a relatively easy material to work with. It can be cut, drilled, and machined using common tools and methods.

4 Suitable Processes for Acrylic

Acrylic casting is creating shapes and objects using a versatile plastic material. Acrylic can be cast using a variety of processes, each with its advantages and disadvantages. The most common methods for casting acrylic are injection molding, extrusion molding, and vacuum forming.

CNC machining

CNC can also machine acrylic. Machining acrylic sheet has many advantages. First of all, it is a very accurate method. It can produce parts with tight tolerances and smooth surfaces.

Secondly, CNC machining is very fast. It can produce large quantities of parts in a short amount of time.

Finally, CNC machining is very versatile. It can create a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

CNC milling acrylic

Injection molding

The injection molding process is widely suitable for the mass production of plastic products, including acrylic. The main advantages of this process are the high speed and automation, which leads to reduced labor costs.

The process of injection molding begins with melting the acrylic. The melted plastic is then injected into a mold cavity, which cools and solidifies into the desired shape. After the part has cooled, it is ejected from the mold, and the cycle repeats.

Injection molding is a versatile manufacturing process that can produce parts of various shapes and sizes. The process suits mass production, as large parts can be produced quickly and efficiently. 

Injection molding can also produce very intricate and detailed parts, making it ideal for applications where precision is important.

injection molding acrylic

Extrusion molding

Extrusion molding is a popular method for manufacturing acrylic products. This process involves melting and extruding the acrylic material through a die, which gives it its shape. Once it has cooled and solidified, the product is removed from the die.

Extruded acrylic cut and cast acrylic cutting are entirely different processes. You must consider the cut quality of acrylic and know how to use the correct cutting strategy and tool.

There are many benefits to using this method of manufacturing, including its versatility, speed, and affordability. Additionally, it produces products that have a very consistent quality.

Some drawbacks to extrusion molding include that it can produce products with imperfections or voids. Additionally, this method is not typically suitable for products that require intricate details or shapes.

extruded acrylic rod

Vacuum forming

Vacuum forming is a popular method for creating prototypes and production parts from acrylic sheets. The process involves heating a plastic sheet until it is soft enough to mold, then using a vacuum to suck the softened sheet down onto a mold. Vacuum forming is often suitable for thermoforming acrylic.

Types of CNC Acrylic Machining Operations

These common types of CNC acrylic operations are suitable for various industries, from manufacturing to design and architecture.

CNC Acrylic Milling

This type of CNC operation involves shafts or blocks of acrylic material shaped using a rotating cutting tool. The CNC milling machine moves in different directions, allowing precise cuts to be made in the acrylic material.

Acrylic CNC Turning 

The CNC router creates cylindrical shapes, such as tubes, by rotating the acrylic material on an axis while cutting it with a stationary tool. CNC turning ensures the finished product has a smooth surface.

CNC Acrylic Engraving

Engraving machines create intricate and detailed designs on acrylic materials. The CNC machine operates by removing layers of material from the surface of the acrylic in a precise manner, creating a three-dimensional effect.

CNC Acrylic Cutting

With the help of CNC cutting, intricate shapes and designs can be cut into acrylic materials. The focused laser beam can melt and vaporize the material, creating smooth edges and precise cuts.

CNC Acrylic Bending

This process involves heating and bending acrylic sheets into specific shapes suitable for various projects. With the help of a CNC bending machine, the acrylic material can be bent into complex shapes without cracking or breaking.

What Are The Advantages Of CNC Acrylic Parts?

There are several advantages of CNC acrylic parts, such as:

Precision: CNC technology ensures highly accurate and precise cuts, finishes, and shapes on acrylic parts.

Versatility: CNC machines can create various shapes and sizes, including complex geometries and delicate designs.

Durability: Acrylics are highly durable and resistant to impact and weathering. CNC machining can help to reinforce and strengthen acrylic parts, enhancing their longevity.

Cost-effective: CNC technology allows for batch manufacturing of parts, resulting in reduced labor costs, lower scrap rates, and faster production times.

Customization: CNC machining offers flexibility in design and customization, allowing users to create unique and personalized acrylic parts to suit their specific requirements.

Eco-friendliness: Acrylics are a recyclable material, making CNC machined acrylic parts an eco-friendly option for manufacturing.

Applications Of CNC Acrylic Parts

Acrylic parts are commonly suitable for various applications due to their many advantageous properties. Some of the most common applications for CNC acrylic parts include:

Medical Devices: Acrylic is often used to manufacture medical devices due to its biocompatibility and serializability. It is also transparent, which can be advantageous for certain medical applications.

Optical Devices: The transparency of acrylic makes it an ideal material for many optical devices, such as lenses, prisms, and mirrors.

Signage: Acrylic is commonly suitable for signage due to its durability and resistance to weathering. It can also be cut and shaped into complex designs, making it ideal for creating eye-catching signs.

Displays: Acrylic is commonly suitable for displays due to its clarity and resistance to shattering. It is often used in shop windows and display cases.

Furniture: Acrylic furniture is becoming increasingly popular due to its stylish appearance and durability. It is often used to create coffee tables, chairs, and other pieces of furniture.

acrylic parts

Tips On CNC Machining Process For Acrylic

1. When machining acrylic on a CNC machine, it is important to use sharp tools.

2. It is also important to use lower speeds and lighter cuts when machining acrylic.

3. Another tip is to use a lubricant when machining acrylic. This will help to prevent the material from melting and sticking to the tools.

4. Finally, allowing the machined acrylic piece to cool completely is important before removing it from the machine.


Acrylic is a versatile material that has many applications. It can be machined in some ways and has various properties that make it ideal for a range of products.

If you are looking for an affordable, durable material that can be machined to your specifications, acrylic may be the perfect choice for you.

We hope you will find this information helpful. And if you have any other questions, feel free to contact us!