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The Most Cost-Effective Materials To Use for Plastic Machining

Views: 50     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2024-05-08      Origin: Site


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CNC plastic machining stands out as a flexible manufacturing method renowned for its remarkable precision and accuracy. Moreover, its compatibility with a wide array of plastic materials, including ABS and Nylon, further enhances its appeal.

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Plastic CNC machined parts find extensive utility across diverse sectors like automotive, consumer electronics, and consumer goods. Furthermore, exploring their distinct properties, as elaborated below, unveils their suitability for specific material applications. For instance, ABS, prized for its impact resistance, emerges as a favored option for fabricating automotive components or protective casings. The ensuing section will delve into factors facilitating the selection of optimal CNC materials.

Factors to Consider When Choosing CNC Machining Plastics

Plastic machining offers a plethora of materials at the disposal of machinists. As a client, navigating the selection of the optimal CNC material for a project can be a daunting task. Yet, with the guidance of experts like Zonze, compiling a shortlist of desired material properties becomes effortless.

Formulating this shortlist necessitates a thorough understanding of the part's requirements. By adequately addressing specific questions about the part, clarity emerges regarding the essential properties versus those that are negotiable. Sample questions to consider include:

What Will You Use the Part For?

The functionality of a part invariably dictates its structural requirements. Consequently, the intended function of your part serves as the primary determinant for selecting the appropriate material for the plastic CNC machining process. Material selection is notably influenced by the operational environment in which the CNC plastic part will be utilized. For instance, POM emerges as the preferred choice for applications necessitating minimal or no friction, owing to its renowned low-friction properties.

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Moreover, the specifications outlined in the part design significantly influence CNC plastic selection. For parts demanding high precision, materials like ABS or PMM are ideal choices due to their excellent machinability. This inherent property renders them well-suited for precision plastic machining applications.

How Strong and Temperature-Resistant Must the Plastic Be?

Various metrics, such as wear resistance, tensile strength, and material hardness, serve as benchmarks for assessing the strength of plastic materials. However, in the realm of plastics, each term carries distinct implications. Identifying the most pertinent criterion for your part aids in selecting the optimal material for CNC plastic machining.

Moreover, the operational temperature of the environment in which the part will be deployed emerges as a critical consideration in material selection. An erroneous choice could precipitate part warping or deformation, compromising functionality. Therefore, prioritizing materials with high-temperature resistance for applications in elevated temperature environments is imperative.

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This principle extends to environments characterized by significant temperature fluctuations. Opting for materials with robust temperature resistance ensures minimal expansion and contraction, thereby preserving dimensional stability over time.

The Cost of the Plastic

The cost aspect of CNC plastic materials is of equal significance to the aforementioned factors. Higher-priced plastics escalate production costs, consequently impacting the final part cost and potentially reducing sales volume. Therefore, prudent consideration of production budget is imperative prior to material selection.

Does the Part Require Post-Processing Treatments?

Certain parts may necessitate post-processing treatments following machining to enhance their aesthetic appeal. However, not all plastics readily accommodate all types of finishes. Thus, it is imperative to factor in compatibility with desired finishes when selecting plastic for CNC machining.

Various Plastics for CNC Machining

At Zonze, our extensive selection of plastic materials for CNC machining is meticulously curated to ensure cost-effectiveness. (Please note that raw material prices may vary according to market conditions.) Explore our range of offerings below:


Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, commonly known as ABS, stands as a prevalent choice in CNC plastics, catering to diverse industries due to its advantageous material properties and cost-effectiveness. Renowned for its exceptional machinability and affordability, ABS finds widespread utilization in prototyping and certain end-use applications.

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In terms of properties, ABS boasts remarkable impact resistance alongside favorable temperature and chemical resistance. Its superior machinability ensures the production of parts with premium surface finishes. Moreover, machined ABS components are amenable to various post-processing treatments, including surface metallization, electroplating, bonding, and beyond.


POM, alternatively referred to as Acetal or Delrin, emerges as one of the most user-friendly plastic materials for CNC machining. Although it surpasses ABS in machinability, its status as a high-strength engineering plastic comes with a slightly higher raw material cost, impacting overall machining expenses.

Renowned for its outstanding wear resistance, low friction, strength, and dimensional stability, POM has garnered widespread utilization across numerous end-use applications in plastic CNC machining. These applications range from gear bearings and automotive parts to consumer electronics, pipe components, and beyond.


PMMA, commonly recognized as Acrylic, stands out as a transparent CNC plastic with commendable strength and stiffness characteristics. Offering both good machinability and a cost-effective raw material, PMMA emerges as an attractive choice for numerous manufacturers.

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As one of the most prevalent plastics, PMMA finds widespread application across various industries. Its transparency renders it a popular substitute for glass in sectors such as construction, interior design, and chemicals. Moreover, its weather-resistant properties make it a favored material for billboards and signage fabrication.


PA, commonly referred to as Nylon, is a widely employed synthetic polymer renowned for its commendable mechanical strength, shock absorption, and wear resistance, alongside other desirable properties. Despite the relatively low cost of raw PA material, its moderate machinability rate can impact project costs, particularly those necessitating tight tolerances and intricate features.

With extensive application in the fabrication of structural components, PA serves as a cost-effective substitute for metal parts. Furthermore, its excellent electrical insulation and chemical resistance render it a favored choice among plastic machining manufacturers across diverse industries.


PC, also recognized as Polycarbonate, emerges as a transparent thermoplastic renowned for its high strength and stiffness. Its exceptional impact resistance typically stands as its most sought-after material property. Furthermore, PC boasts good machinability, translating to relatively low CNC machining costs. However, it's worth noting that the raw material cost for PC, available in rod or plate formats, ranks as the highest among CNC machining plastics.

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PC finds extensive application in plastic machining within the automotive industry, where it is utilized in the fabrication of various car components, including instrument panels, pumps, and valves. Beyond automotive applications, PC is also employed in the production of protective gear, internal mechanical parts, medical devices, and more across various sectors.

CNC Machining Plastics

In general, CNC machining plastic materials offer a notably lower price point compared to metals, largely due to their lower raw material costs. Consequently, CNC machining plastics are frequently favored for prototyping purposes. However, among the assortment of CNC machining plastics offered at Zonze, there exist varying levels of cost-effectiveness.

If cost efficiency is paramount in your prototype or end-use part production, it's crucial to consider how design choices can impact CNC machining expenses. Explore some practical design tips aimed at minimizing machining costs here.

Zonze CNC Machining Services

Selecting the appropriate material for your plastic CNC machining endeavor can indeed be daunting, particularly when navigating the process independently.

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However, for expert guidance on identifying the optimal plastic for CNC machining applications, Zonze stands out as the premier choice. Our team of CNC machining specialists, including designers, machinists, DFM specialists, and more, collaborates on diverse CNC projects to deliver optimal outcomes for your plastic machining requirements.

Get An Online Quote And Design Analysis Today

Zonze focuses on multi-process assembly services, facilitated by its array of metal and plastic product processing workshops.

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