Acrylic Pen Blank Display with CNC

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Hybrid Blanks

As many of you know, I have been getting into making my own hybrid blanks by stabilizing otherwise worthless wood using with my vacuum chamber and casting with my pressure pot. Through the process of making the various videos and experimenting with colors, I have created quite the selection of hybrid blanks. I like to bounce around between projects and won’t be able to turn them all into pens so it’s time to start selling off some of my blanks. To do this, I decided that I needed high quality pictures of the blanks and set off to make a custom acrylic stand. (Check out the store!)

Cutting Acrylic with a CNC

I probably could have used a bandsaw or even a jig saw to cut the acrylic but was hoping to get a more accurate and repeatable product with the CNC. Plus, I really haven’t been using it and have been wanting to get it back down. Before getting started, I figured drawing the stands in Adobe Illustrator would be the hard part, boy was I wrong! Turns out acrylic is one of the more difficult materials to CNC as the feed & bit speeds are very critical and they seem to very quite a bit depending on where you look and who tells you. One thing everybody agrees on is if you don’t go fast enough you’ll melt the material and if you don’t clear out the cuts you’ll melt the material. Other than that, some people say go deep and fast, others say go light and slow and it seems like everywhere in between.

I ended up messing up a couple 1/8″ sheets trying to dial in my speeds and went back to my computer to do more research. I found that cast acrylic work much better and I needed to get a specialty bit for the CNC. (Listed below in Tools and Materials.) I visited a local plastic company and picked up some 1/4″ cast acrylic and found the bit on Amazon with same day shipping. That night I re-tried with a new bit, material and speeds. This time I was much more successful even though I still have some dialing in to do. I’ve determined that every machine needs to be dialed in as most are slightly different but I’ll list what speeds I ended up with below.

Speeds

Last cut in the video:
Feed: 100 in/min
Plunge: 18 in/min
Depth per pass: 0.029 in
Router speed: ~1600 rpm

recommendations from my friend Anthony from Machine Right:
Feed: 60 in/min
Plunge: 47.6 in/min
Depth per pass: .0078 in
Router Speed: 16706 rpm

OR (I thought that would take HOURS as it would take over 32 cuts to make it though 1/4″ material so he recalculated for a faster carve but I never tried this.)
Feed: 47.595 in/min
Plunge: 47.6 in/min
Depth per pass: 0.15 in
Router speed: 16000 rpm

*These speeds are just what I was playing around with.

Tools & Materials

Other than basic things like sandpaper, table saw, etc.. Here are the materials and tools I used for this project:

 

 

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