Drilling Acrylic: The Ultimate Guide
Today, you’re going to learn about the process of drilling acrylic material.
It doesn’t matter whether you want to make small or big holes.
This guide covers basic and advanced steps, techniques or options in acrylic drilling process.
Definitely, if you’re thinking of being an expert in acrylic fabrication, then this is a must-read guide.
So let’s get on;
What is Acrylic Drilling?
Well, first of all, it would be vital to understand what acrylic drilling entails before even looking at some of its major aspects.
In simple words, it refers to the technique you use to create holes on an acrylic material to serve different purposes.
These holes may vary in size of course depending on the particular application for the material.
In most instances, when drilling an acrylic material, you will use a tool commonly known as a drill bit, which also varies in size.
The good thing with this technique of material fabrication is that it makes it possible for you to attain relatively uniform holes.
You see this is fundamental because it means that you will certainly attain the best results when handling your particular application.
As you will learn later on in this guide, drilling acrylic is a quite easy and fast process, but it’s also quite effective.
And talking if easy and fast, let’s now look at some of the reasons that make this particular technique worthwhile.
Why Drill Acrylic?
Well, this is an important question to ask yourself when thinking of drilling acrylic material.
Possibly, you would ask yourself several questions regarding the same especially if you are a first time in using this technique.
So let me tell you, we have numerous beneficial reasons that make drilling acrylic a better fabricating technique worth using.
Drilling acrylic – Photo courtesy: SerroxAcryl
In this section, therefore, we will look at some of the main advantageous reasons for drilling acrylic which include the following;
· It is relatively fast
There is absolutely no doubt about this.
You see, when you choose to drill an acrylic material for whatever reason, you can be sure that you’ll be done in a matter of seconds if not minutes.
This is to simply say that drilling this type of plastic material makes it possible for you to complete and accomplish the task quite faster.
It is not something that you will have to take more time thinking about on how to do or even involve other unnecessary procedures.
As long as you have the right tools and you understand the basics of doing it, you will be done as soon as you start the process.
· It is effective and inexpensive
Of course, as I did mention earlier, for you to carry out this process accordingly, you need to have all the relevant tools for the task.
And once you have these tools, you’ll notice that drilling acrylic is somewhat effective but at the same time less costly.
This is the thing; when drilling this material, you won’t need to outsource or seek labor since it is something you can do on your own.
Furthermore, for DIY projects, this is something you will indeed do at the comfort of your workshop.
And since there will be a minimal cost involved, which is technically, purchasing the drill bit, you can be sure of saving a considerable amount of money.
· It requires little knowledge
Well, this is the other essential element that makes drilling acrylic material a worthwhile undertaking in plastic fabrication.
You see, you don’t necessarily have to read about it to be able to do it.
Incidentally, this is something that you learn practically the more you do it.
Therefore, once you get some basic tips as well as procedures of doing it, you will easily but gradually become an expert the more you do it.
And of course, the essence of this is that it allows you to do a perfect job for your projects and different applications as far as drilling acrylic is concerned.
· Can drill as many acrylic materials as possible
You see, the reason why this technique is also ideal is that it can allow you to drill many different acrylic materials as possible.
I mentioned earlier that it is quite fast and effective.
So what this merely implies is that in any case, you have several sheets to drill, you can simply do it with ease.
In some instances, you can as well choose to drill multiple sheets simultaneously.
Of course, this is dependent on the length of your drill bit and strength of your drilling machine.
But the bottom line, in this case, is that you can create holes in as many acrylic materials as possible if you need to.
Of course, this is advantageous because it means that you will be able to cut on cost and also reduce the time for this particular process.
· Can drill different types and sizes of acrylic materials simultaneously
Well, you can as well drill numerous types and sizes of acrylic materials concurrently.
All you need to do is assembling these different types of materials appropriately and ensure that you also have the right tools.
Right tools in this instance merely mean that you need to have the specific type of drill bit that can support the specific different sizes of acrylic materials.
And talking of right tools, we want to go further now and determine some of the most important technical specifications and requirements of acrylic drilling.
So without taking much time, let’s find out more in this next section;
Acrylic Drilling Technical Specifications & Requirements
Listen, in any aspect of acrylic drilling; you need to know that there are some specific technical specifications and requirements.
These aspects are critical especially when it comes to ensuring effectiveness or efficiency of the process and guaranteeing best results.
What happens is that you have to observe most of these specifications and requirements if at all you have to attain desirable outcome of the process.
For that reason, let me take you through some of these key aspects of acrylic drilling in details;
a) Type of drill bit
The truth of the matter is that drill bit is the essential tool in any aspect of drilling of an acrylic material.
In other words, I’m trying to say that you can never carry out this process if you do not have a drill bit.
So what is this drill bit anyway?
Well, this is an imperative question to ask especially if you are possibly learning about acrylic drilling for the first time.
I know that you have come across this particular word and you’re probably wondering what it is.
This is the thing; a drill bit simply refers to a cutting tool which you use to remove some bits of acrylic material, in this case, to create holes.
You’ll normally attach it on a drilling machine which powers it as it penetrates through an acrylic material.
In most cases, drill bits come in almost circular cross-section and in different sizes as shapes.
And this is what makes it possible for the same to create different holes in a wide range of materials.
Now as you can see, the type of drill bit that you use for drilling acrylic material definitely plays a significant role in determining the efficiency and outcome.
Ideally, we have two different major types of drill bits in the market, which include the following;
· A drill bit for plastic
This is a type of drill bit that is mainly designed to cut a wide range of plastic materials including acrylic and polycarbonate.
A drill bit for plastics in most instances are designed in a special angle, which makes it possible for them to make smooth cuts in the plastic material.
Of course, they also come in different sizes and shapes.
Therefore, you need to choose one depending on your specific needs.
The design of this type of bit also incorporates a central point and spurs which is critical when it comes to keeping the bit aligned.
In the end, this type of drill bit helps in maintaining a relatively clean and neat hole.
· Standard drill bit
This refers to a particular type of drill bit that you can use for both plastic, metal or rubber material.
What happens is that the design of this drill bit makes it easy for you to create holes in a wide range of materials.
Drill bit tip
In other words, you can say that this material is suited for different materials and not particularly for acrylic material.
It is an essential type of drill bit in the sense that you can be able to use it, especially when in need of joining an acrylic material with other materials.
Also, this type of drill bit also comes in different shapes and size, which makes it easy for you to drill different types and sizes of holes.
· Size of the drill bit
Well, this is the other key technical specification and requirement that revolves around acrylic drilling.
Ordinarily, the size of the drill bit in this sense helps determine the size of the hole that you require.
Having the correct size of the drill bit is also essential because it enables you to have the correct holes on your material.
Drill bit dimensions
The importance of this is that it prevents incidences of creating irregular holes which perhaps have rough edges.
So in other words, drilling larger holes require relatively large drill bits and vice versa.
The essence of getting the right size of the drill bit is also to prevent cases of chipping the material after drilling the hole.
For that reason, you need to be particular when it comes to identifying the right size of the drill bit which you require.
Typically, you’ll find two major sizes of drill bits suitable for acrylic drilling, which include the 60° drill bit, and the 120° drill bit.
b) Drill speed
When creating a hole or holes in an acrylic material, you’ll always use a drilling machine.
Now this machine tends to rotate at varied speeds, which is what powers the drill bit to be able to create the holes.
Drilling acrylic surface
The speed for creating holes is, therefore, an important element in this process.
It helps in making sure that you make the holes as fast as possible and at the same time ensuring that the holes are ideal for the purpose.
But then, this speed also determines the quality of holes that you make.
Of course, the speed is dependent on several other aspects such as the type of material, size of the hole and that of a drill bit.
But in an ideal sense, it is always recommended to use fairly low speeds, especially when drilling bigger holes.
High drilling speeds tend to melt the acrylic material, particularly when drilling large holes.
Additionally, you also need to master how to regulate the drill speed before, during and after drilling the hole on the material.
c) The thickness of the acrylic material
What usually happens is that acrylic materials often come in different sizes.
And that is where you have to be particular when it comes to choosing the type of drill bit to use.
Thickness of acrylic material
The thickness of the materials is also important when it comes to regulating the drilling speed.
This is in the sense that if it a bit thicker, you’ll have to drill through it quite with a fairly slow speed.
The essence for this is that you need to prevent any possibility of bruising the hole, cracking the material or melting it.
You see, high speeds usually increase the temperature of the drilling surface because of the friction.
Therefore, there is a need for you to ensure that you carefully establish the precise thickness of the material and consequently selecting the right drill bit.
d) Drilling precautions
Well, this is one of the most important requirements which you need to observe whenever you’re drilling any acrylic material.
Just before you even start to do this process, you must ensure that you conform to the particular safety standards.
Safety – Photo courtesy: Technology student
Remember you will be using a drilling machine which can be harmful if you do not operate it accordingly.
Also, you need to be mindful of the fact that acrylic material is made of different elements.
And whenever you’re drilling, it tends to cause friction which heats it hence producing some chemical emissions.
So the first drilling precaution is that you have to ensure that you wear all the appropriate protective gears.
These will enable you to stay safe from any unlikely event since you shall be fully protected.
Another basic drilling precaution revolves around operating the machine.
The thing is that you have to know how to fix a drill bit and replace it when the need arises.
At the same time, you also need to know how to operate it especially when it comes to adjusting the drilling speeds.
And when the task is over, you also need to ensure that you keep it at a better place away from children’s reach.
e) Minimizing heat
Now, this is another fundamental element which you must also observe whenever you are drilling an acrylic material.
Minimizing heat in this case simply implies that you need to ensure that when drilling, you keep the drilling surface temperatures as low as possible.
In most cases, the temperature usually rises as a result of friction between the surface and the rotating drill bit.
So the importance of minimizing this temperature is to always prevent the drilling surface from melting.
But then, the question to ask here is how do you minimize the heat?
Well, the first approach is by reducing the drilling speed, particularly when drilling a relatively thick material; or a large hole.
Maintaining low speeds in such instances helps to reduce friction which also leads to low heat generation.
The second approach is by using water as a lubricant when drilling the hole.
You only need to pour water directly on the drilling surface as you continue drilling.
It helps in reducing the temperatures to a significant level.
So primarily, these are some of the essential technical specifications and requirements surrounding acrylic drilling.
In the next section, we want to look at the step by step process of acrylic drilling to give you an idea of what it takes.
Drilling Acrylic Process – Step by Step Process
Listen, like I did mention in the earlier sections of this guide, drilling acrylic materials is reasonably straightforward and fast.
You won’t necessarily have to go through a thorough process to make it happen.
Incidentally, once you have all the right materials, tools and equipment, you’re ready to go.
So in this section, I want to quickly take you through this particular process, which apparently will make you appreciate and possibly try it when the need arise.
Also, remember that most of the acrylic drilling projects are DIY hence the significance of understanding the basic step by step process.
Step 1: Prepare the working space
This is common knowledge. I mean before you start the process you need to make sure that your working space is well organized.
Keeping all the tools and materials where they need to be put and also making sure that the workspace has enough ventilation.
Additionally, it should also be spacious enough to allow you to move around with ease.
Step 2: Assemble all the appropriate materials
In this case, what it means is that you need to look at the tools and materials that you want to use and ensure that they are readily placed.
What it means here is that a tool like a drilling machine and a drill bit always come dismantled.
Therefore, you need to attach both of them together and ensure that you tighten the drill bit appropriately before starting the task.
At the same time, you also need to place the materials at the right place for easy drilling.
Step 3: Place the acrylic sheet in a flat but raised surface
Now that you have your workspace ready for the task, the next important thing to do is placing it on a flat surface.
While at it you also need to make sure that you clamp it tightly to prevent it from moving when you already start drilling.
The flat surface also needs to be raised a little bit to make it easy for you to drill the hole on to the other side of the surface material.
Step 4: Fix your drill bit on the drilling machine
You see, what normally happens is that you will find a drilling machine with a drill bit separately.
The reason for this is that in most instances, you will possibly need to use different drill bits depending on your different preferences.
So for every drill bit that you’ll be using ensure that you attach it properly on the drilling machine.
Also, know the settings for every drill bit to make it easy for you to attain efficiency during the drilling process.
Step 5: start drilling the acrylic sheet
Now, this is where all action takes place.
Once you power your drilling machine on, you need to start drilling the hole at a specific part of the acrylic materials.
While at it, you need to ensure that you determine the best areas for drilling which of course you have to mark before the drilling process clearly.
Now, actual drilling can as well be challenging depending on the type of hole you are drilling, the thickness of the material and type of drill bit.
But then, you need also to knowhow totoregulate the speed of the drill as well as how to tilt the drilling machine to the best angle.
This will make it possible for you to drill consistent holes with the best surfaces for your application.
Step 6: Clear the work space
Ordinarily, drilling acrylic material tends to be a messy activity.
What I mean here is that during the drilling process, the chopped materials tend to drop and scatter all over the work space.
Therefore, it would be ideal for ensuring that you clear the area appropriately once you finish the project.
Additionally, you may also need to consider cleaning the drill bit and the machine as a way of removing the chips that might have stuck on it.
And once this is over, you can store them back safely.
Common Problems in Acrylic Drilling
The truth of the matter is that drilling an acrylic material also comes with its few shares of challenges.
It is imperative to understand all the possible challenges, causes as well as the solutions for the same.
Nevertheless, you need to know that such problems are often inevitable hence making it difficult for you to determine the likelihood of arising.
In this section, we want to look at the major problems often associated with acrylic drilling and also find a way of dealing or preventing them.
This is one of the major challenges you are likely to experience when drilling an acrylic material.
You see, it happens in various ways; including occurring at the lips of your drill bit and as well at the cutting edge of your drill bit.
The main causes of chipping on the lips of your drill bit are usually too much lip clearance which makes the lips to break down.
The other cause for the same is insufficient clearance which in turn makes the drill to split up the web.
In such instances, the possible viable solution is by repointing the drill bit or better still you can choose to replace the drill.
On the other hand, chipping on the cutting edge usually arises as a result of a large run out after attaching the drill or a loose holder.
The possible solution for this challenge is to check and adjust your holder accordingly or better still select another one.
It can also be as a result of excessive cutting speeds hence the need for reducing the speed or the feeds.
Melting is also yet another challenge that you are likely to experience when drilling acrylic material.
What happens is that friction when drilling the bit through the surface usually raises the temperature especially in high speeds.
So it makes it quite easy for the acrylic surface to start melting.
As it is, the only ideal way of preventing melting s by reducing or significantly regulating the drilling speed.
You can as well choose to pour water which acts as a lubricant and at the same time a coolant.
· Irregular holes
The main cause of irregular holes is loose clamping of the acrylic material which tends to shake as a result of the machine’s vibration.
You see, the drilling machine is so powerful hence making hence the need for tightening the clamps of the materials.
So the best way of dealing with this is obviously by making sure that you tightly clamp the material.
Another possible cause is the loose attachment of the drill bit.
In such a scenario, the drill bit will rotate in an irregular motion hence causing irregular holes.
Of course, the ideal solution, in this case, is to ensure that you fix the drill bit tightly on the machines.
Applications of Acrylic Drilling
Nowadays, you’d find several types of products in different sectors made from the acrylic drilling process.
And this is what we want to quickly look into to determine such applications.
Acrylic drilling is common in most of the signage products used in different sectors.
They provide quality and attractive signs which when put at a strategic location enable users to identify with the product or service.
2. Decorative products
It is also another area where the use of acrylic drilled material is common.
Acrylic shoe display rack
You will find that many manufacturers are embracing the use of such materials in their products to make them attractive to potential clients.
3. Medical equipment
Most of the joined medical equipment use products made from drilling acrylic.
Acrylic medical equipment
It helps in enhancing the efficiency of the machine as well as ensuring that they provide better and accurate findings.
4. Building and construction
Well, this is an area in this era which hardly fails to incorporate a wide range of products made of acrylic material.
Acrylic replacing glass
In most cases, the acrylic drilling products in a building and construction area are normally in washrooms and kitchen.
5. Picture frames
Then last but not least, you will also realize that drilled acrylic materials are also commonly used in picture frames.
Acrylic picture frame
They provide the beauty that comes with displaying the pictures, whether in the house or even outdoors.
As I conclude, I want to believe that you now understand the various perspectives of drilling acrylic process.
It is imperative to know that drilling acrylic is also a technique that you can use effectively for fabrication.
Of course, you can see from this guide that this is quite a significant process for producing a wide range of products.
And as you continue to explore more about the same, you can freely make an inquiry, suggestion or addition about it at the comment section.