How to Avoid a Poor Finish When Cutting Acrylic on a CNC Router

One of the most frequently asked questions regarding acrylic is cut quality, and naturally, how to improve it.

There are many things that can contribute to cut quality: bad data, tool choice, machine settings, vacuum hold and machine choice, this video will cover all of these aspects.

Bad data notoriously results in faceted lines. This will be evident by what we tend to call the ripple effect, the video highlights this issue. In order to fix said data, our application specialist recommends converting vectors to arcs. In this particular video we are using ArtCam, however this approach is available in almost all software.

Tool selection is critical, and in the case of cutting acrylic, AXYZ recommend a tool with a single upward spiral flute geometry which is designed for plastics. These tools can be purchased at CNCshop.

Inappropriate machine settings often play a part in poor quality. AXYZ offer a great wall chart which has recommended settings for a wide range of materials and tools.

Despite all these factors, a poor machine will no doubt result in a poor cut quality. There are key components to consider when purchasing a CNC Router for cutting acrylic. Firstly, a solid, rigid base. Add servo motors and helical racks for precision and a high quality spindle with good bearings. Finally, a flat sacrificial bed and good vacuum are important for eliminating vibration or material movement. You can learn about these issues and more by reading our ’10 pitfalls to avoid when purchasing your CNC Router’.

AXYZ recommend two types of machines, the AXYZ and Pacer Series, both great CNC Router choices.