Acrylic rods are sold in various standard sizes, and these must be cut into the required sizes during use. Knowing how to cut acrylic rod into these desired length helps prevent damage, in addition to reducing waste, among other benefits.
In this guide, we show you the different methods and tools that you can use to cut acrylic rod pieces. We also added important tips that will help you achieve the best results when it comes to cutting acrylic. Let’s dive right in.
What is Acrylic Rod?
An acrylic rod is a cylindrical (or other shape) piece made of solid acrylic material. The acrylic itself is a synthetic type of thermoplastic made using methyl methacrylate or MMA. Typically clear and shatter or impact resistant, these rods provide a less costly alternative to glass.
The qualities of acrylic make rods made from the material versatile enough for many different applications. Common acrylic rod uses include the following: glazing, on signs as sign holders, in skylights, and many different crafts. Based on their production method, acrylic rods are also usually either cast or extruded.
Cast Acrylic Rod
This type of acrylic rod is manufactured using a casting process. In other words, molten acrylic is carefully poured into a mold where it solidifies into a rod of the required length and size.
Cast acrylic rods are clearer, more thermally stable, and offer superior machinability when compare to the extruded types. They’re also available in many different colors, but offer looser thickness clearance.
Extruded Acrylic Rod
The extruded acrylic rod is made using the extrusion process. This involves pushing a molten mass of acrylic through an opening or form that’s shaped like a rod. Compared to the cast type, the extruded acrylic rod has lower thermal stability and optical clarity.
Although more prone to chemical damage, these rods offer tighter thickness clearance. They’re also easier to work with. Which brings us to the main topic of this article’ how to cut acrylic rod’ into the required lengths.
How to Cut Acrylic Rod
Acrylic rods are sold in various standard sizes that include 4’ and 6’ lengths and varied diameters. These acrylic rod sizes cannot fit every application. At one time or another, therefore, the rods may need to be sized, using by cutting them sing different tools.
Knowing how to cut acrylic rod pieces when sizing them is an essential part of your project’s success. That’s because cutting them the wrong way can end up causing damage and other issues. The main ways of cutting acrylic rod or rods include scoring, sawing and using a laser cutter.
This method of cutting acrylic rod is best use on thin rods. To cut an acrylic rod by scoring, you need a sharp knife or scoring blade. Follow these steps.
- Using a knife or scoring blade, make a deep scratch on the spot where you want the rod to cut
- The scratch will produce as weak point that will allow the rod to snap
- With the help of your hands or clamp, apply pressure to the rod to snap it at along the score line.
- For better results, place the rod on a table or bench and snap it over the edge
You can also customize your acrylic rod sizes using a saw. This can be a jigsaw, band saw, table saw, or saber saw: it depends on the type available, but more importantly, your acrylic rod sizes and shape.
- Mark where you want the rod cut
- Place the rod on the cutting table and clamp it as appropriate
- Align the saw with the marked spot
- Using your saw, slowly cut into the rod on the marked line until it separates into two
- Smooth the edges as to remove roughness
This way to cut acrylic rod pieces involves vaporizing the acrylic, using laser, at the marked spot. The laser acrylic rod cutter can be one of these: a handheld unit that you hold in the hands or a table cutter that can cut larger rods.
- A laser cutter is often a CNC machine that will automatically cut acrylic rod using a hot beam of light
- When using laser, ensure the right settings
- Additionally, ensure that you’re not overheating the acrylic rod, as that can cause it to crack or produce harmful fumes.
Tips for Cutting Acrylic Rod
When cutting acrylic rods, simple mistakes can result in damaged roads or cuts that are not as clean and perfect as you may want them to be. This can spoil your project. These acrylic rod cutting tips should help ensure that you get the best of results.
1. Always make your marked line visible enough or you may end up damaging your rods. Make sure that the line is straight too.
2. Choose a cutting method or tool that you’re familiar with, or can comfortably use. Using a laser cutter, for example, can produce heat and burn your rod or generate toxic fumes.
3. Your acrylic cutter may cause debris to fly around. Ensure, therefore, that you’re wearing protective gear when doing the cutting.
4. In most cases, you may need to smooth the cut edges using a piece of sandpaper to remove imperfections such as scratches.
5. To smooth and polish your cut acrylic rod, follow these steps:
- Clean the rod surface
- Using sandpaper, (from coarse grit to finest), smooth the rod
- You may also wet sand the rod for a smoother finish
- Use a polishing compound meant for acrylic
- Finally, clean the polished rod and inspect it for damage
Acrylic rods, with their appealing look and versatility, find important application in everyday projects, from professional projects to DIY crafts. In this guide on how to cut acrylic rods, we discussed the cutting methods and tools you can use. We also included useful tips that you can use to ensure the success of your projects.