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How to cut or drill polycarbonate plastic

Updated April 17, 2017

Polycarbonate plastic was first developed in 1953. Today, polycarbonate plastic has many applications due to its high strength and flame-retardant properties. Bulletproof windows, often used as a security device in banks and stores, are constructed of polycarbonate material. Polycarbonate is an expensive fabrication material, and production are costly. Learn the proper method of cutting and drilling polycarbonate plastic to minimise the cost of wasted material.

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  1. Install a carbide saw blade with 60 to 80 carbide-tipped saw teeth. Panel saws provide the best cuts on polycarbonate plastic that's less than 0.018 inches thick. Table saws make the best cuts if the plastic is more than 0.018 inches thick.

  2. Ensure the table saw top is free from debris. Debris can scratch the polycarbonate sheet as the sheet advances through the blade.

  3. Set the saw blade's height to 3/8 inch above the surface of the sheet being cut. This setting minimises chip out of the cut.

  4. Insert the correctly sized high-speed drill bit into a drill press' chuck. Select the drill bit that matches the size hole you want to drill.

  5. Adjust the drill press' speed to between 350 and 1750 revolutions per minute, or RPMs. Adjust the speed according to your drill press operator's manual.

  6. Maintain drill feed pressure sufficient to form a continuous spiral-shaped chip. This chip forms as the drill advances through the polycarbonate material. Use air or water for a coolant if the drill bit becomes hot enough to melt, rather than cut, the polycarbonate.

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Things You'll Need

  • Panel saw or table saw
  • 60 to 80 carbide-tooth saw blade
  • High-speed drill bit set
  • Drill press

About the Author

Robert Osborne has written professionally since 2010. He writes for eHow, specializing in aircraft and boat maintenance, home renovation and electrical engineering. Osborne earned his Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from George Washington University.

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