EMD (Enhanced Materials Division)

Enhanced Materials Division (EMD)

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1 min read

Q&A – Machining plastics – what do I need to know?

By Dave Biering on September 2, 2014

Machining plastics – what do I need to know?This question came into our Ask the Experts portal and it bears repeating. There are many variables when it comes to machining plastics that one must consider, such as thermal expansion, the speeds and feeds of the machine, plus the need to use a coolant ― and choosing the right one ― to prevent melting. 

How can you avoid the machining pitfalls of chipping and threading? 

For many machinists, moving from metal to plastic can be a bit of an adjustment; particularly in determining heat tolerances. Each plastic is unique; some expand during the machining process, and then shrink again. Some require a dual approach; with an initial round of machining, followed by a cooling-off period, then a final round to complete any final cuts.

To help you through the process, we’ve prepared a machining video (see below) that is full of tips and tricks. Be sure to also check out the complete TriStar video library on YouTube for more timely information on plastics.

Topics: Manufacturing Plastics Machining
1 min read

Machining Rulon® - 8 Techniques to Finish Stock Material

By Dave Biering on May 28, 2013

Machining Rulon - 8 Techniques to Finish Stock Material

You’ve identified the ideal Rulon formula for your application, and now need some advice on achieving the best machining technique to fit your application.Before you start experimenting, here are some of the most-common machining methods.

Rulon can be finished by using the following techniques:

  • Cutting
  • Sawing
  • Centerless Grinding
  • Tapping and Threading
  • Reaming
  • Turning and Machining
  • Screw Machining
  • Etching


As a rule, we recommend a machining surface speed (F.P.M) of 400. A feed rate of .004 to .006 in. per revolution is ideal when working with stock of 0.125 in. diameter or smaller; the bar will have to be supported during forming either through a center hole or on the side opposite the tool. Very small diameter pieces may require a much larger diameter ground rod to form the required diameter just prior to cut-off. Keep in mind that standard screw machines generally limit bar length to 12’.

Rulon Machining Guidelines

For more on machining plastics, check out our machinining slide presentation or grab our free machining white paper

We can also help you alter the surface of your material to improve adhesion properties of paint or other coatings. Learn more about the advantages of Surface Modification.

Custom Plastic Fabrication: Get the Guide! 

Topics: Rulon Materials Plastics Machining
1 min read

Machining UHMW – Points to Consider

By Dave Biering on May 1, 2012

A customer recently asked us for tips on machining UHMW materials to better hold tolerances. UHMW is a very unstable material to machine, since it has roughly 12x the thermal expansion of steel. 

Some of the key factors that we like to review include the size and geometry of the part, the speeds and feeds of the machine, plus the types of coolants to use (and those to avoid). With the right technique in place, chipping, threading and other challenges can be avoided. 

We’ve created a video to provide even more machining tips. Or our in-house machining experts are always available to help you troubleshoot, and can point you to our “Machining Plastics" seminar.

Custom Plastic Fabrication: Get the Guide!

Topics: Plastics Machining