How to cut polycarbonate sheet. Polycarbonate sheeting consists of a thermoplastic resin known as bisphenol-A. It was originally created in the 1930s and has become popular for a number of purposes ever since.
Measurements vary but generally, a half-inch thick piece would be 0.5 inches in diameter, and those dimensions only change slightly going up to the next 2/16th of an inch.
Any thicker than that and you should assume your cuts will require tools such as power saws or lasers, even industrial cutting tools like water jets or plasma will work for that sort of thickness in this material.
How to cut polycarbonate sheet
Polycarbonate sheets can be cut with a jigsaw or circular saw. Both tools take care of polycarbonate sheets well because the material is strong. When you need to make square cuts from a polycarbonate sheet, you may want to use a circular saw in order to avoid cracks and splinters.
Procedures for cutting polycarbonate
Keep the polycarbonate sheet material’s thin clear plastic cover intact. Do not remove this thin plastic until you are ready to install the sheet into place.
Like a polycarbonate sheet that has a polycarbonate protective plastic lid, the thin clear plastic will protect the polycarbonate from any mechanical damage that may occur during cutting.
If for some reason you can’t see anything past the thin protective layer of thin plastic then look in Tips for more information about how to safely cut it.
Mark the cutting line
Ensure you take the time to make all of your necessary preparations, including measuring the polycarbonate sheet material, marking out needed cuts with an indelible marker, and using a tape measure.
Once these have been completed, you will be ready to start making your long cuts using the strait-edge ruler and the jigsaw.
Using a circular saw
For straight-line cuts, use a fine-toothed saw blade. A blade with a diameter of 10-inches to 14-inches should have a tooth range of 60 to 80 teeth. The speed should be approximately 3,400 RPM and the polycarbonate sheet must be well supported.
Two 4×4 pieces can be used as holding material during cutting if the sheet is too thick or large to hold with your hands. If you cut through the polycarbonate sheet material without stopping, you will get clean crisp edges with no cracks in between.
Do not force it as this will crack the material. Therefore, using a good quality poly carb is recommended in this case.
Using the hand-held jigsaw
Use a jigsaw to make curved cuts in the polycarbonate sheets. Set a metal-cutting blade into the saw, consisting of at least 10 teeth per inch of blade. Place the polycarbonate material on top of a cutting platform .
Adjust the saw speed to approximately 12,000 strokes per minute (SPM) so that the blade is moving fast enough but not too fast. Again, let the saw do most of the work and do not force it through the plastic as you cut.
Set the side table supports on the vertical band saw
Adjust the side supports on your band saw before attempting to cut 6-mil polycarbonate. For large pieces, it’s best to avoid using the table altogether.
Set up a proper cutting area with surface preparation as previously discussed and adjust the blade tension so that it is set slightly less than firm. Keep in mind, you also want to lubricate the blade while you do this.
Use 10 teeth per inch, and make sure that you run it no faster than 7,500 feet per minute (fpm). A material movement needs to be consistent when running through your saw without becoming too quickly or resting for too long at any given point.
If you hold material still for too long when cutting out sheets of 6-mil polycarbonate, it will overheat and melt in places making for an uneven cut and negatively affecting quality control efforts.