Plastic machined components are a necessary part of nearly every industry today. Plastic outperforms many other materials in applications that demand unique properties like resistance to corrosion and friction. From food and beverage processing equipment to advanced military applications, plastic parts are in service all around us. Plastics also serve a vital role in manufacturing, where low cost and ease of fabrication make it ideal for prototype part development.

Plethora’s plastic prototyping services feature our state-of-the-art multi-axis CNC milling and turning equipment to produce custom plastic parts for the following industries:

  • Medical
  • Aerospace
  • Chemical
  • Electronics
  • Automotive
  • Fuel
  • Agriculture
  • Waste

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Prototype Your Parts Quickly and Efficiently with Plastic

Plastics have physical properties that make them an ideal material choice for many applications. For example, plastics aren’t conductive and produce less friction while withstanding chemical contaminants. Plastics are inexpensive and lightweight, helping reduce projects’ cost budgets. This versatility not only makes plastics an essential part of production manufacturing around the world, but is also a key element of prototyping new parts.

Machine shops can use plastic to prototype a metal part for proof of concept or validating the part’s form and fit. Using plastic materials for rapid prototyping reduces the development time of a new product and cuts expenses. Additionally, CNC machining frequently augments prototype plastic parts bound for injection molding at higher-volume production. The steep startup cost of injection molding is not conducive to the iterative design cycle of product development, and engineers save time and money by machining their prototypes first.

Plastic Prototyping Services with a Wide Range of Materials

Plethora offers many different types of plastic materials for prototyping, including the following:

  • ABS: High-impact-resistant engineering material at a low cost.
  • ACETAL: Performs well in wet and low-friction high-strength applications.
  • LDPE: Inexpensive and ease of machining, a good choice for low-load applications.
  • Nylon: Self-lubricating makes this suitable for rotary and sliding bearing applications.
  • PEEK: Retains mechanical and chemical integrity at very high temperatures.
  • PTFE: Commonly known as Teflon, it is a good choice for harsh environments.

These materials often allow lower-cost testing of form and fit. In addition to cost-effectiveness, plastic materials offer the following benefits:

  • Produce less friction than metal and don’t require the same amount of lubrication.
  • More resistant to the corrosive fluids used in control systems for aircraft and other vehicles.
  • Greater capacity to withstand electrostatic discharge in electronics.
  • More tolerant of the harsh chemical cleaners used in the medical industry.
  • Reduce the need for food-grade lubricants in food processing equipment.
  • Available in a wide range of colors and finishes.

With their durability and lower cost, plastic materials offer the most significant benefits depending on your part’s needs. However, there are some design considerations to be aware of when using plastics:

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  • Tolerances: Plastic materials generally won’t hold the same tight tolerances as metals can due to their relative softness when compared to metal.
  • Adhesives: Plastic materials do not bind together well with adhesives, especially when building parts from the same material.
  • Threading: One can tap plastics, but machine shops don’t advise it for the part’s longevity and recommend using a threaded insert instead.

The CNC Machining Process for Superior Plastic Parts

With the choice of plastic materials for your prototype part, Plethora will begin work on it right away. Your project will go through the following processes to ensure that the part we return to you adheres to the highest levels of quality:

Online quoting and part evaluation system:

Our online tools allow you to easily upload your part’s CAD model and specify the necessary materials and quantities. From there, our system will evaluate the part for manufacturing and report its findings back to you within seconds.

CNC machining:

The online ordering and evaluation system will forward its data into our factory’s systems for part manufacturing. Our machinists will select from Plethora’s wide array of continuous 5-axis, 5-axis-indexed, and 3-axis mills, or lathes that support live tooling—to fabricate your part expertly.

Quality Control Management:

Our QC teams work together with machinists to ensure that each part we build complies with documented quality standards. We are an ISO-9001 registered machine shop, and this quality culture extends throughout our company.

ITAR registration:

International Traffic in Arms Regulations has registered Plethora. Instituting the ITAR regulations requirements ensures the security of the hardware and data we work with for our military and defense industry clients.