How To Cut Polycarbonate At Home
Polycarbonate is widely used as a reliable and practical translucent material for decorative glazing of construction objects and other structures, for installation of peaks and roofs, arrangement of greenhouses and greenhouses. Monolithic and cellular material can be processed with conventional tools, which increases its popularity among the owners of estates and summer cottages. Before building a carport, a gazebo roof or a greenhouse, it is important to figure out how to cut polycarbonate at home so as not to damage the material.
Polycarbonate Sheet Cutting Tools
First of all, a design project should be prepared, calculating the dimensions of each glazing element. It is recommended to take into account the dimensions of the material (they are standard) in order to minimize the amount of waste. If the elements have curved outlines, prepare the appropriate patterns of thick paper or cardboard. When preparing the material for an arch-type greenhouse, special attention is paid to end elements with a semicircular top.
Preparation and layout:
- The area where it is planned to cut polycarbonate plates is cleaned of debris, leveled, covered with sheet material. plywood, chipboard, etc.
- A polycarbonate sheet is placed on a flat, solid surface, if the material has a special layer that protects the material from aging under the influence of UV rays, pay attention to the marking of the sides. the sheet must lie with the protective layer up. Similarly lay the material with a mirror or laminated coating. The film protecting the polycarbonate from mechanical influences during transportation and fastening is not removed until the installation is completed. Protective film on the sheet
- Mark up according to the project, using a black marker and a metal (or wooden) ruler, tape measure, ready-made patterns from cardboard.
In order to prevent damage to the polycarbonate sheet of a large area during marking, a board with a width of 100 mm and a length of about 2 thousand mm is laid on top, and they only step on it. This eliminates the risk of deformation of the material, the appearance of scratches on the surface.
For the convenience of cutting polycarbonate in size, and so as not to damage the surface of the material, on both sides of the cut line, lay two parallel boards 40 × 100 × 2200 mm under the polycarbonate. they should raise the panel in the area where it will be cut. Using a backing from boards
Tool selection and cutting rules
Let’s consider how and what is the best way to cut cellular polycarbonate and monolithic translucent polymer.
It is important that the tool does not spoil the material. for example, scissors for cutting plastic or construction scissors should not be used, they compress cellular polycarbonate, deforming the edges of the cut. A sawing tool with large teeth is also contraindicated, including a hacksaw for wood. it tears the material, the cut is uneven, with burrs and notches.
Polycarbonate cutting is done:
- knife (mounting or clerical);
- angle grinder (angle grinder);
- circular saw;
- hacksaw for metal;
- electric jigsaw;
- with a laser.
The cutting method is selected based on the available tool, the thickness and structure of the material.
Using a knife
For cutting polycarbonate, a clerical knife is used, in which the blade consists of breakable segments. A construction knife is also suitable, it is more convenient to use thanks to the ergonomic handle. You can use a boot knife.
This tool is not suitable for monolithic polycarbonate, as the material is too hard and work will require a lot of time and effort.. It is convenient to cut honeycomb sheets of small thickness with a knife — not more than 6–8 mm.
Before cutting the panels, check the sharpness of the blade for unnecessary cuts. If necessary, sharpen the boot knife or remove the dull elements of the retractable blade. Use a rule or a metal ruler to cut in a straight line. The blade of the knife should be at an angle to the surface. the thicker the material, the angle should be closer to the straight line.
Cutting polycarbonate with a knife
First, an incision is made at the end, then, without removing the blades from the serif, they slowly lead it along the marking line towards themselves. Irregularities and accidental excess fragments are removed after the element is cut from the plate. If the polycarbonate material is not cut in one go, repeat the process in the same way. It is impossible to bend, break the sheet, otherwise its edges will be severely deformed.
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If you need to cut sheets of large area, it is better to choose a tool that will provide higher productivity. In this case, the knife will be required in any case to remove burrs and cut off irregularities, fitting the glazing element exactly to the specified dimensions.
Cutting angle grinder
To cut polycarbonate with an angle grinder, circles are used for cutting metal. Cut the panel angle grinder, not afraid to melt the edges of the polymer material, will help:
- the use of a cutting wheel for working with aluminum (it heats up less during friction);
- the use of an angle grinder with a speed controller (work should be carried out at low speeds, this also reduces the risk of burrs).
Cutting disc for aluminum with a diameter of 125 mm
It is convenient to use an angle grinder to cut monolithic polycarbonate and honeycomb panels, including along a curved path. When working, be sure to use safety glasses to protect your eyes from flying chips..
After turning on the power tool, you should wait until it reaches the required rotation speed. Cut the sheet material by moving the angle grinder away from you along the cutting line. When cutting the panel along the jumpers, hold the tool so that the blade runs in a straight line without touching the stiffeners.
Polycarbonate cutting with angle grinder (angle grinder)
At the end of the work, check the evenness of the cuts, remove the chips and dust that have fallen into the cells with a blower or vacuum cleaner.
The use of a circular saw
The circular saw should be equipped with a working disc with small teeth. use discs designed to work with plastic or metal. To cut a monolithic or honeycomb panel, follow the same principle as when working with an angle grinder. First let the tool gain speed, then cut the panel raised with the help of two boards, moving the tool away from you. Press the base plate of the tool against the sheet. this will help to more accurately cut the material along the drawn contour.
Be sure to use safety glasses. Using a circular saw
Using a hacksaw
A hacksaw equipped with a blade with small frequent cloves will help to cut a straight strip of polycarbonate, to cut the sheet along or across. Elements of complex shapes cannot be cut with this tool..
When planning polycarbonate cutting at home with a hacksaw, pay attention to the following point: in order for the cut line to be as even as possible, you need to firmly fix the panel. Clamps and boards are recommended. The hacksaw blade is positioned at an angle of about 30 degrees. Saw the panel should be towards you.
Using a hacksaw, you can cut polycarbonate for a greenhouse with a pitched roof, as the tool cuts the material only in a straight line. An electric jigsaw will help to cut semicircular end elements of arched structures.
The use of a hacksaw for metal is permissible with a short cut length. For a long cut, use a hacksaw on a tree, but with small teeth. Wood hacksaw
The most suitable tool for cutting polycarbonate into elements of complex shapes is an electric jigsaw. A tool equipped with a thin file is safer and more convenient to use compared to an angle grinder and a circular saw, while the speed and laboriousness of cutting significantly differs for the better with respect to knife operation. It is allowed to cut monolithic and cellular polycarbonate with an electric jigsaw.
Application of a jigsaw for cutting
When choosing a file, pay attention to the shape of the cloves. Divorced teeth are designed for wood, they will tear polycarbonate, making the edges of the cut defective. To make cuts with smooth edges without burrs and cracks, use a file with small straight or waved teeth.
For cutting a monolith or a honeycomb panel made of polycarbonate, a file for metal, plexiglass or plastic with TPI (the number of teeth per inch of length) is not less than 9 is ideal. Best. from 13 or more. The more teeth, the higher the quality of the cut.
Acrylic file for working with polycarbonate
For work, you need to use a sharp new canvas. It must be properly fixed in the tool and adjusted, otherwise when cutting the material there will be a lot of burrs and nicks at the edges.
- The jigsaw is connected to the network and brought to the place of the beginning of cutting at the end of the sheet. Previously, they make a notch with a sharp knife.
- The base plate of the power tool is lowered onto the sheet and pressed. In this case, you can not press hard, bending the material. It is recommended that you first firmly fix the cut panel with clamps or invite assistants to fix the polycarbonate and dampen its vibration during cutting.
- Electric jigsaw include, give the file to dial the desired speed. Then they carefully lead the tool away from themselves along the cut line. It is important to move forward slowly, being especially attentive to the cutting of the panel in curved sections. It is recommended to pre-train on unnecessary material to confidently perform curved cuts.
- Upon completion of cutting, the tool is turned off and unplugged from the outlet. The cut-off element is cleaned with a construction knife from irregularities, chips and dust are removed.
Laser cutting of polycarbonate honeycomb and monolithic panels requires the use of high-precision equipment. Advantages of the technology include minimal cutting error (no more than 0.5 mm) and ideal cut edges without burrs. The method is suitable for serial production of greenhouse glazing, as well as other building and decorative elements from translucent polymer. Working with laser equipment requires professionalism.
Laser cutting application
If necessary, make small parts of complex shapes, it makes sense to contact the workshop where they work on laser equipment. To open a sheet of thin cellular polycarbonate, a construction or shoe knife or a jigsaw with a good quality file will help. Jigsaw is easy to cut and monolithic material. An angle grinder and a circular saw can be used for straight cuts, but they are inferior to a jigsaw in terms of safety and ease of use.