How to Cut Polycarbonate | A Complete Analysis

Hello People. I hope you’re doing well. Today I’m going to share a step-by-step guide on how to cut polycarbonate sheets.

Cutting polycarbonate is easier compared to cutting acrylic and an experienced person can also do the task perfectly. This is because polycarbonate sheet is very strong and very heat resistant, so the problems faced while cutting acrylic like cracking is non-existent.

Polycarbonate comes in many forms and shapes, the most popular form being sheets which are available in various sizes and thicknesses. Depending on your purpose you can use a polycarbonate sheet in its original form or reseize it depending on your requirements.

Take note that cutting polycarbonate sheets will not change their appearance, durability, and quality. It only makes it easier to work with for individual projects. Utilizing the right tools and techniques, cutting polycarbonate becomes easy, and there is no risk of damage as well.

Different Methods for Cutting Polycarbonate 

Preparation Before Cutting Polycarbonate Sheet:

It’s essential to arrange some supplies before even thinking about cutting any plastic sheets, let alone polycarbonate. Make sure you’re using a saw with variable speed. It’s also important to have a board to support the polycarbonate sheet while sawing.

I sincerely recommend wearing safety goggles to prevent any small chips of polycarbonate from getting into your eyes.

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Cutting Polycarbonate with a Table Saw:

Table saw Image Credit –

A table saw is a great tool to cut polycarbonate sheets with a thickness of 0.5 mm. The tool will provide a much precise and clean cut for your project.

  1. Start cutting by measuring and marking your cut.
  2. After that proceed to frame the mark using masking tape.
  3. Now, get your table saw and place it on a fine-toothed saw blade. Fine tooth blades are the best for cutting polycarbonate sheets.
  4. Slowly push the polycarbonate through the saw as a piece of plywood.
  5. While pushing, keep the pressure adequate, too high or low pressure might crack the polycarbonate.
  6. At last, just push the sheet with moderate pressure and don’t stop till the cut is complete.

Cutting Polycarbonate with a Band Saw – 

A band saw is a table stationed cutting equipment that’s a pretty good option to cut polycarbonate. It is easy to use and can cut through any polycarbonate thickness.

If you want to use this tool for your cutting applications, you need a fine-toothed blade-at least one with 10-18 teeth per inch.

  1. Place the blade and set the cutting speed to at least 2500 RPM.
  2. Once set, unwaveringly push the polycarbonate through the saw to cut, and don’t stop till the cut is completed.

How to Cut Polycarbonate with a Circular Saw – 

Circular saws are well suited for cutting almost all materials. It creates good quality cuts and finishes on materials. For polycarbonate, a circular saw is capable of cutting well through any thickness above 0.125 inches but below 0.5 inches.

However, if a situation demands you to cut a thin 0.0625 inches- 0.0937 inches polycarbonate using a circular saw, then it’s smart to use a hollow ground panel blade with at least 10 teeth per inch.

When cutting a heavy gauge 0.125 inches – 0.5 inches, use a triple chip cut carbide blade with alternating bevel and straight teeth with 3 teeth per inch.

  1. Now, to start cutting polycarbonate, begin with placing the appropriate blade on the saw.
  2. Then clamp the polycarbonate to the sawhorse or any support items that you’re using.
  3. Have a good grip on the, use both your hands to grasp it, and then slowly push the saw forward to cut.
  4. Don’t use too much force or you will create a mess around your cutting area and large chips to clean after.
  5. Too slow force is also not good as it will melt the polycarbonate.

That’s the reason I’m consistently using the ‘Steadily’ as it is crucial to keep the force and pressure adequate. Importantly, a circular saw can only be used for making straight cuts. If you want to make circular or non-linear cuts then go with a band saw or jigsaw.

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Cutting Polycarbonate with a Jigsaw – 

A jigsaw is mostly used for making curves, non-linear designs, and cuts in polycarbonate sheets. The cutting process, even though you will be cutting intricate designs, is quite simple.

  1. First of all, place the sheet flat on the cutting surface.
  2. Press the saw shoe onto the material and direct the blade through the cut.
  3. Like all cutting equipment, you don’t have to apply force or pressure to the jigsaw to cut.
  4. All you have to do is start the motor and guide its way through the sheet to cut, it’s true, it’s as simple as it sounds.
  5. If cutting curves, then it becomes a bit tricky, however, still easy. You’ll need to maneuver the blade from curves to inside corners.
  6. While guiding the blade through the polycarbonate sheet make sure you do it at a pace allowing the blade to cut without deflecting. This will help you with more control over the jigsaw and help prevent its motor from overworking.
  7. You should also use relief cuts to remove waste when cutting tight corners. Otherwise, the saw blade will bind on the curve, and that’s bad news.

Safety Precautions While Cutting Polycarbonate – 

Most DIYers underestimate safety precautions. That makes them at risk of injuring themselves while cutting polycarbonate or any other material for that matter. However, safety is predominant, especially in the DIY projects where blades and machines are involved, especially when blades and machines are involved.

Here are some safety precautions to follow when cutting polycarbonate sheets:

  • Ear-plugs
  • Fae masks
  • Safety goggles
  • Long-sleeved

These things will keep you safe from injuries and also boost your productivity.

Cutting Polycarbonate is Easy but Why – 

Polycarbonate is a tough, high-performance, amorphous, and transparent thermoplastic with rigorous mechanical and chemical properties. Polycarbonate sheets are lightweight and possess outstanding impact strength making them a premium alternative for glass.

Polycarbonate is considered 200 times stronger than glass in terms of impact resistance and is thus often utilized to make bulletproof vests and automotive parts.

The same impact and heat resistance we’re praising so much come as a boon for DIYers as that toughness leaves very little room for mistakes like scratches, and burning (more common in acrylic sheets).

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FAQs – 

1. What is the best blade to cut polycarbonate?

Ans. As I’ve established polycarbonate sheets can be cut with a variety of common handheld and table-mounted sawing equipment. Fine tooth hollow ground blades and triple chip carbide blades are fantastic choices for producing a good and precise quality finish. For a thin gauge sheet 1/16” -3/32” thick use hollow ground panel blades with 10-12 teeth per inch.

2. Is polycarbonate better than acrylic?

Ans. Both polycarbonate and acrylic have some similarities but have many differences making that comparison a bit bizarre. However, polycarbonate is much more impact-resistant than acrylic making it ideal for high-demanding applications such as bullet-proof windows. On the other hand, acrylic, in general, is also a tough plastic material, but not as tough as polycarbonate. Acrylic is easier to crack, while polycarbonate is easier to scatch.

3. Will a Dremel multipurpose bit cut through 1/2 inch Polycarbonate?

Ans. If a Dremel is all you have, it’s possible to cut through the polycarbonate. However, you need to be careful and don’t hurry along. You can also go with a Rotozip saber, a cheaper alternative Chuck it as low as you can, and use the router attachment (has less tendency to tip and cause side torque (which is what causes breakage).

4. Can I laser cut polycarbonate?

Ans. laser cutting is a terrible choice for cutting polycarbonate. It’s an unpopular opinion, but it’s true. In contact with the laser, polycarbonate tends to melt rather than vaporize and has higher chances of catching fire and leaving behind burned gooey deposits on the cutting vector grid. It also does not engrave well.

5. Can I drill holes in polycarbonate sheets?

Ans. Compared to plexiglass sheets, it’s easier to drill holes in polycarbonate sheets. You can use a normal steel drill or an HSS drill. Just make sure that the drill is not brand new. The sharpness of a brand new drill can bite through the sheet, causing it to tare.

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Final Thoughts – 

That was what I have to say about how to cut polycarbonate with ease and precision. Always remember using the correct tools is the key to cutting any material perfectly. Polycarbonate won’t be that difficult to cut just make sure to be steady as you go through with the cut, you’ll become good at it in no time.

Thanks for reading. Kindly share your reviews in the comment section.

Have a wonderful day.

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