What's the Best Method for Cutting Plastic?

Thursday, September 30, 2021

When choosing a production method for your plastic part, there are a lot of factors to consider. For parts that need to be cut, there are a number of methods to choose from. The two preferred methods of cutting plastic – precision die cutting and dieless knife-cutting (flash cutting) – are suitable for different applications and parts.

Which one is the best method? Which one is right for your part? Read on to learn more about the methods of cutting plastic and how to choose.

What is Precision Die-Cutting?

Precision Die Cutting is the process of cutting plastic into various shapes and sizes. In traditional die-cutting, a machine is purposed to create one specific part. This makes it a highly effective method for repeated, high-volume production. However, it’s far less economical for small run parts and doesn’t offer much flexibility. For example, even changing the thickness of the part may involve starting back at square one to create a new setup.

ICP can die cut a wide variety of non-metallic or flexible materials. We also have the ability to die cut plastic up to 3/16″ thick.

Choose this if….

  • You don’t anticipate making any tweaks or changes to your design
  • Rapid prototyping isn’t a concern
  • Your part will be a longer run
  • Your part requires high-volume production and you anticipate needing more runs in the future

In those instances, precision die-cutting is the more economical choice.

What is Dieless Knife-Cutting?

Dieless knife cutting (also called flash cutting) uses a combination of machinery and computers to cut plastic into various shapes and sizes, while removing the need for hard tooling. With a flash cutting machine, you can more easily update the shapes and sizes being cut on the fly. This makes flash cutting highly attractive for rapid prototyping, short productions and to reduce material waste.

Choose this if….

  • You need rapid prototyping and a quick turnaround
  • Your part is a short run and/or is not a high-volume order
  • You anticipate needing to tweak or change design in the future
  • You have multiple, low-volume or short run parts that need to be created

Think fast when you think flash cutting. Flash cutting gets you the part you need now so you can bring it to market tomorrow.

These guidelines will help you choose the right method for your part, but you may still have some questions. For engineers and designers interested in utilizing plastics, send us your design questions to get a more solid recommendation.

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Industrial Custom Products is a one-stop-shop for custom manufacturing and plastic fabrication, including: prototyping and product development, die cutting and dieless knife cutting, thermoforming and vacuum forming, large part thermoforming, CNC plastic routing, fabrication and assembly and drape forming.