Plexiglass is a plastic material that can be used for a variety of projects and due to its lightweight, durability, and eye-appealing apperance, it is commonly used in DIY projects such as illuminated nightlight, jewelry, and wall art. However, cutting plexiglass can be tricky, as it can scratch easily, crack if not handled properly, or melt if exposed to too much heat.
In this article, we will show you how to cut plexiglass with different tools and techniques, depending on the thickness and shape of the material you need. We will also give you some tips on how to avoid common mistakes and achieve smooth and clean edges.
In This Article
- What is Plexiglass?
- Method 1: Use a Laser Cutter for Cutting Plexiglass
- Method 2: Cutting Plexiglass with a Utility Knife
- Method 3: Cutting Plexiglass with a Jigsaw
- Method 4: Cutting Plexiglass with a Table Saw
- What is the Best Way to Cut Plexiglass?
- How to Cut Plexiglass without Cracking or Breaking It?
What is Plexiglass?
Plexiglass with one “s” (Plexiglas) is a trademark that you often hear. It was invented in 1933 by Rohm and was trademarked. Now, it is a popular product that is being used in a wide range of products and projects. Initially, it was a transparent plastic, but now, it is available in a wide range of colors.
What is the Difference Between Plexiglass and Acrylic?
Plexiglass and Acrylic are considered to be the same, and people often use these names interchangeably. It is because they are made of polymethyl methacrylate. With that being said, both are made from the same material.
The difference between plexiglass and acrylic is due to the manufacturing process. There is a minute difference. But if you look at both, you will hardly find any difference.
Acrylic can be made from extrusion or cell casting processes. On the other hand, Plexiglass is made through a special process of cell casting. It is a brand and trademark which is known for its special characteristics, such as clarity and impact resistance.
We can say that Acrylic is the generic name, while Plexiglass is a specific type of acrylic that is made through a special process.
Plexiglass is not glass, but it is a better alternative to glass because it can bear force. It is a tough material and does not break, and surprisingly, it is as transparent as glass. Due to these special characteristics, it became quite popular. Nowadays, it is often preferred instead of glass. You will find Plexiglass in aircraft windows, lenses, aquariums, signs, desktop organizers, wall hangings, décor items, and tons of other things.Buy Plexiglass
If you want to use plexiglass, then the first question that will come to your mind is how you can cut it. There are several methods of cutting plexiglass, such as knife, laser, and saw. It is a must to know which method is suitable for what.
Method 1: Use a Laser Cutter for Cutting Plexiglass
Laser cutting is the best option for cutting plexiglass because it can cut any design without any hassle. The laser cutters are quite powerful and precise, and they can even cut intricate designs, such as Mandala art, in no time.
Even if you are a beginner, you can use a laser cutter for cutting plexiglass or any other compatible material. You just need to upload the desgin file, and it will do the rest. There is no risk of harm like in other methods. Secondly, it is an automated method, which means the laser cutter will cut the material according to the design; you just need to wait.
You can cut plexiglass using a diode or CO2 laser, but keep in mind that a diode laser will not be able to cut transparent and blue plexiglass; other than that, it is an affordable option. A CO2 laser is the champ for cutting plexiglass because it can cut all types of plexiglass at a much faster speed.Pay Deposit Now
The only problem with cutting plexiglass using a laser machine is the size. Laser machines have a limited size. With that being said, you can cut the material according to the working area of the machine. If the material is large, you need to process the material multiple times. However, the common working area of laser machines is more than enough to work on multiple projects and make various products.
How to Cut Plexiglass with a Laser Cutter
Step 1: Set up the laser machine and open the laser software on your computer.
Step 2: Upload the design to he software for cutting. You can upload any compatible file. Laser-cut files are easily available online.
Step 3: Place the plexiglass on the working area. Make sure it is secure over the laser bed or honeycomb panel.
Step 4: Focus the laser on the material to get excellent results. Once it is focused, use the optimal power and speed according to the laser machine you are using. You can also do a speed and power test to know the best settings.
Step 5: Start cutting plexiglass, and let the laser do its job. Once it is complete, you can take out the plexiglass from the working area.
When you cut plexiglass using a laser cutter, the edges are already smooth. There is no need to do anything; however, you can still use sandpaper.
Laser Cutting Plexiglass Projects
A laser cutter is a versatile tool that can help you create various plexiglass projects, such as home decor, jewelry, gifts, and more. You can also turn your DIY hobby into a business by making and selling plexiglass products. Here are some common plexiglass projects to inspire you.
Photos can be engraved on plexiglass, and the outcome looks exceptional. When plexiglass comes into contact with a laser at low power and high speed, it offers a white frost appearance. The final photo can be hung on the wall or placed in a photo frame. It is ideal for gifting.
image credit: by DNellyDesign via Etsy
Plexiglass can be laser cut to create a variety of wall hangings. It can be mandala art, landscapes, quotes, or anything else. Special signs for homes and offices can also be made from plexiglass.
Plexiglass lights are quite popular these days. They can be customized according to the requirements of the buyers. For example, it can be made according to an anniversary gift. The plexiglass is laser cut into the desired shape and then laser engraved on it. Finally, the material is placed on the lamp base. The engraving will look very special due to the light.
Plexiglass is also a great material for making stunning jewelry with a laser cutter. You can cut plexiglass into any shape you want. Then, you can add some sparkle with earring hooks and voila! You have your own one-of-a-kind earrings that will make you stand out from the crowd. Whether you want to make a statement, match your outfit, or express your personality, plexiglass jewelry has you covered.
A plexiglass clock is a great way to add some flair and charm to your space while keeping track of time. With a laser cutter, you can transform a sheet of plexiglass into a beautiful and personalized clock that will suit your taste and style. You can choose the size, shape, color, and design of your plexiglass clock and cut it with the laser cutter. Then, you can add some clock hands and a battery and hang it on your wall.Laser Cutters for Your Easy Creations
Method 2: Cutting Plexiglass with a Utility Knife
Cutting Plexiglass with a utility knife is the easiest and quickest method. You only need to slide the knife two or three times, and the plexiglass will be broken into pieces after applying a little pressure. When you slide the knife over the plexiglass, it removes the material from the surface. A groove is created, which makes it easier to break it into pieces.
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This method is the easiest, but you can only make straight cuts through it. It is only suitable for dividing or cutting plexiglass into pieces. It is not suitable for making intricate cuts and designs.
Keep in mind that the utility knife can slip on plexiglass because of its smooth surface. Thus, you need to be extra careful. Otherwise, you will end up hurting yourself. Here are a few simple steps that you can follow to cut plexiglass with a utility knife.
How to Cut Plexiglass with a Utility Knife
Step 1: Place the piece of plexiglass on the table. Now, place a ruler or straight object on the plexiglass sheet. Hold the ruler and plexiglass firmly.
Step 2: Take the knife and cut along the straight line of the ruler. Slide the knife on the material with a little pressure. Make sure it removes some of the material from the surface, but do not hurt yourself.
Step 3: Slide 2-3 times on the same groove. Finally, flip the plexiglass and bend it. It will break into two pieces with a snap.
Method 3: Cutting Plexiglass with a Jigsaw
A jigsaw can cut plexiglass like butter. You can cut in curves and make some simple designs if you can handle a jigsaw easily.
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The final cuts made by a jigsaw are much better than knife cutting because the edges are quite smooth. But you need to be careful while using this power tool.
You cannot pick a random blade to cut plexiglass, which is why the selection of the right blade matters a lot. Blades for wood cutting are not good for cutting plexiglass; you need a much finer blade, which is made for plastic cutting. It should be fine-toothed and unpainted as well.
If the jigsaw has pendular motion, it should be turned off. Otherwise, it will make cracks while cutting plexiglass. Secondly, set the cutting speed to slow or medium-slow. Plexiglass material can easily crack or shatter if it is cut too quickly.
How to Cut Plexiglass with a Jigsaw
Step 1: Place plexiglass on the table and secure it with clamps. Connect the jigsaw with the vacuum pump if you have one; it will suck most of the waste.
Step 2: Mark the pattern or line for cutting. It will help you move the jigsaw easily.
Step 3: Place the jigsaw on the plexiglass and keep it away from the edge. Start it, and then move your hand slowly.
Step 4: Make sure to smoothen the edges after cutting. You can use a knife, deburr tool, or even sandpaper. Otherwise, you can hurt yourself due to the sharp edge.
The blade will move slowly at first, and once it gets hot, you can cut faster. Make sure to use personal protective equipments while using a jigsaw and keep your hands away from the blade.
Method 4: Cutting Plexiglass with a Table Saw
A table saw is another option for making straight cuts in plexiglass. Like a jigsaw, the table saw also requires the right blade. Choose the blade which is specifically made for cutting plastic. Otherwise, there will be cracks in the material. Secondly, the speed should be around 4,000 RPM to get the best results.
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It is quite easy to cut plexiglass with a table saw. You can cut even thick pieces of the material without any hassle.
While using a table saw, safety is essential. You need to be very careful because you can badly hurt yourself. Do not risk yourself if you are a beginner. Moreover, use safety goggles while cutting anything on a table saw.
How to Cut Plexiglass with a Table Saw
Step 1: Place plexiglass on the table. Turn on the motor.
Step 2: Hold the material firmly and apply a little pressure over it. Now, move it forward.
Step 3: The blade will start cutting the material. Make sure your hands are safe. Move the material forward until it is completely cut into pieces.
What is the Best Way to Cut Plexiglass?
The best way to cut plexiglass is by using a laser cutter. It is because the laser increases the temperature of the material rapidly and the laser vaporizes the material. Thus, cutting Plexiglass becomes a lot easier. The edges are quite smooth, and you can cut almost any design using a laser cutter. With that being said, you can make a wide variety of items.
On the other hand, if you use a knife, jigsaw, or table saw, you cannot cut intricate designs. Secondly, you can also hurt yourself badly because these tools require experience and expertise.
Laser machines are quite fast; they can cut hundreds or even several thousand of millimeters in only one second. The speed is incredible, so you can cut much faster than other methods. Another incredible thing about laser engraving is its accuracy. It can be up to 0.0004 inches, which is outstanding. The Kerf width will also be minimal because of the small laser spot.
How to Cut Plexiglass without Cracking or Breaking It?
If you use a laser cutter for plexiglass, you won’t experience cracking or breaking because the laser vaporizes the material. This means that the laser beam melts and evaporates the plexiglass as it moves along the cutting path, leaving a smooth and clean edge behind. The laser cutter can also adjust the power and speed of the laser beam to create different effects on the plexiglass, such as engraving or marking.
But if you are using a knife, jigsaw, or table saw, you need to know a few tips and tricks to get the best cutting results.
- The blade you are using should be specifically made for plastic cutting, which creates special edges and grooves that make the cutting of plexiglass smoother. Avoid using blades that you use for wood cutting.
- Always secure the plexiglass on the table because any movement can crack or break the material. Use clamps to fix it on the table.
- The speed of the blade is also an important factor. It should be slow or medium-slow.
- Always keep the blade away from the plexiglass at first. Start the machine and then move the blade towards the material. If you stick the blade to the material and then start the machine, it will result in chipping, cracking, or breaking.
- Move the jigsaw gently, and when the blade becomes hot, increase the speed gradually.