Polycarbonate is a popular plastic with excellent heat and insulation capacity commonly used to produce or alter window panes. Everyday objects like toys, greenhouse covers, vehicle headlights, and CDs also contain this material. Polycarbonate almost always comes in relatively easy-to-cut sheets since it can break when subjected to substantial efforts. Here is a guide on how to cut polycarbonate sheets properly.
Depending on your sheet’s purpose, hardness, and thickness, you can use many tools to cut through the polycarbonate. A utility knife will suffice for thin layers, while power tools like fine-tooth bladed saws and a router will come in handy for more complex tasks. Generally, you will need:
- Tape measure
- Cutting tool (laser cutter, Dremel, angle grinder, utility knife, power saws, router)
- Protective gear
- File or fine-grit sandpaper
Using A Utility Knife
You can use a utility knife or hand shears to cut your polycarbonate sheets up to one-eighth of an inch thick. To cut your sheet this way,
- Clamp the sheet on a steady, flat surface.
- Use a marker and straightedge to mark your cut line.
- Many times, score the sheet with the utility knife to create deeper groves while holding the cut line’s straight edge.
- Flip the sheet, clamp it, and repeat the scoring process until it falls off.
- Sand the edges for a smooth finish.
Sawing Your Polycarbonate Sheet
A jigsaw, scroll saw, or circular saw can cut longer polycarbonate sheets thicker than 3mm. To cut your sheets using a jigsaw or band saw,
- Clean your saw table to get rid of any specs that can scratch your sheet.
- Install a circular small-tooth saw blade to reduce chipping. In addition, use a metal blade that has up to 4mm tooth spacing when cutting curves using a saw.
- Set your saw speed to about 6000-8000 feet per minute.
- Measure your dimensions carefully using a marker, and mark the point where you will cut your sheet. You can use your straightedge to guide the pen.
- Clamp your polycarbonate sheets on a stable table to reduce vibration. If you are cutting multiple panels, layer them together to obtain a similar cut. However, it is best to try using just one only if it is your first time cutting.
- Run your saw with medium speed through your panel until it falls off. Also, pause between cuts to allow the blade to cool off.
- Check your cut edge’s smoothness with your finger, and file it down further for a smoother finish.
Using An Angle Grinder
Angle grinders are hand-held machines that have grit on the cutting wheel for cutting. An angle grinder’s cutting mechanism closely resembles sawing, although these grinders rotate quicker than a circular saw. To cut your sheets using an angle grinder,
- Wear your protective gear.
- Use a measuring tape to measure and mark your cut line on the polycarbonate panel.
- Clamp the panel on a raised and stable surface.
- Turn the power tool on and wait for it to pick up the appropriate speed.
- Cut your panel by relocating the angle grinder farther from you gently along the cut line you have marked.