Common CNC Machining Processes for Plastics

26 April 2023

Computer numerical control (CNC) machining is a popular manufacturing process for different materials, including plastics. The machines used for this process can be controlled by computer programs, which utilise accurate and precise measurements to cut and shape materials into specific shapes and sizes.

Generally, CNC machining can produce highly accurate and repeatable results, making it an ideal choice for creating plastic parts and components. Here are some of the most common CNC machining processes that industries can be used for plastics:


Milling is a CNC machining process that can be used for plastics. This process involves cutting the workpiece with a rotating cutter featuring multiple cutting edges. The cutting tool can then remove material from the workpiece as it rotates, creating products and others with the desired shape and size. This process can be used to create a wide range of plastic parts, including prototypes, moulds, and production parts.


Drilling is another CNC machining process for plastics that involves generating holes in the workpiece through a rotating cutting tool. It is often used in combination with other CNC machining processes like milling or turning, creating complex plastic parts with multiple features. Drilling can be used to create through holes and blind holes in plastic parts.


Turning is a popular CNC machining process that works by rotating the workpiece and using a single-point cutting tool to remove some materials. This CNC machining process is ideal for creating cylindrical or round plastic parts, such as threaded fittings or bushings. It can easily produce high-quality results and create parts with precise dimensions and tight tolerances.

Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is a CNC machining process that takes advantage of a high-powered laser to cut through the material. This process is ideal for creating precise, complex plastic parts with tight tolerances. It can be utilised to produce products with a variety of shapes and sizes, including complex geometries and fine details.

Waterjet Cutting

Waterjet cutting is a CNC machining process that relies on a high-pressure jet of water to cut through the plastic material. It can be used to cut through a wide range of plastics, including thicker materials. This process is ideal for creating precise and intricate shapes and cutting through materials that cannot be handled with other CNC machining processes.


Ultimately, routing is a CNC machining process that uses a spinning cutting tool to remove material from the workpiece. This CNC machining process can be used to create complex shapes and contours in plastics like curves or rounded edges. Routing can produce high-quality output and can be used to create plastic parts with smooth finishes and tight tolerances.

CNC machining is a versatile and efficient manufacturing process that can help create plastic parts and components. Various CNC machining processes are available for plastics, with each maximising unique advantages that can be favourable for different plastic parts. When choosing the correct CNC machining process, you must consider the desired shape, size, and tolerance of the required plastic parts or products for your applications.

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