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Article: Can a CNC machine cut acrylic?


Can a CNC machine cut acrylic?

Acrylic, also known as Plexiglas, is a versatile plastic material commonly used in lighting, displays and manufacturing. Acrylic's transparency, strength, and machinability make it a popular choice. But can CNC machines effectively cut this plastic? The short answer is yes—with the right settings, a CNC can accurately cut and engrave acrylic.

Can a CNC machine cut acrylic

Laser engraving systems

A CO2 laser engraving CNC like the Lunyee 80W model can cut and mark acrylic up to 10mm thick. The laser's focused heat delicately vaporizes the plastic along the programmed tool path. The laser produces clean, smooth edge quality with no chipping. Variables such as power, speed and frequency must be optimized for the composition of the acrylic. Ventilation is critical to expel fumes.

CNC machines and spindles

Alternatively, a CNC machine with a spindle can machine acrylic. Milling machines such as the Lunyee 300W model accept milling bits optimized for plastics. Carbide compression drills cleanly shear acrylic when dialed into the proper speed, feed rate, depth of cut and tool path. Routers can provide excellent results for thicker acrylics or designs that require 3D surfaces. Dust removal is mandatory.

Cutting and engraving

Both lasers and milling machines excel at engraving acrylic surfaces or cutting entire sheets. Sub-surface engraving can create illuminated letters or backlit panels. Acrylic contour cutting accurately replicates CAD designs. For maximum versatility, some CNCs even combine the laser and spindle in one machine. This allows seamless switching between laser engraving and router cutting on acrylic.

Fixing and finishing

Careful filtering ensures that the acrylic sheet remains perfectly flat during processing to prevent cracking or melting. Customized fixtures help hold small acrylic parts in place. After machining, edges may need to be sanded or polished for a smooth surface. Shields prevent surface burnishing. Following best practices for acrylic processing is key.


All in all, a state-of-the-art CNC machining center like Lunyee can definitely cut and engrave acrylic with extreme precision and repeatability. By choosing the right laser or spindle toolpath strategy and optimizing speed settings, CNCs excel at manufacturing this versatile plastic into custom lighting, retail displays, photographic accessories, awards, and more.

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