How to Cut ABS Plastic [3D Printing Useful Guide]

by Mike Brooks | Last Updated: December 9, 2021

Most 3D printing hobbyists find it tricky when a project calls for cutting plastic material. More so, cutting acrylic or polycarbonate into plastic sheets.

How to Cut ABS Plastic

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Little debate takes place among 3D printing enthusiasts when it comes to cutting wood. However, it becomes a different story when it comes to cutting plastic.

The question remains: How to cut ABS plastic?

For example, getting a perfect cut remains difficult as some plastics melt during the cutting process. As such, you need to take proper precautions during the entire plastic cutting session.

It’s common for a plastic surface to get scratches during this process, and you may need to buff the edge when you complete the project.

This article serves as a guide on how you can successfully engage in cutting ABS plastic, getting the best results every time.

What Is the Best Way to Cut ABS? How to Cut ABS Plastic?

ABS( Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is a thermoplastic that can easily be molded when heated and hardens when cooled. As such, it can take many forms and maintain its quality. ABS plastic material is used in numerous industries and among 3D printing hobbyists as well.

ABS plastic is used in manufacturing keys for the computer keyboard, power tools, refrigerators, car interior, and a wide range of building materials.

4 Different Methods for Cutting ABS Plastic Sheets

To cut ABS sheets, you will undoubtedly require power tools. But if you are working on a thin plastic sheet, you won’t need a power tool as you can cut it by scorching the piece using a penknife (view on Amazon).

Also, cutting plastic needs a lot of focus and precision. You will need to control the power tool to ensure that the plastic sheet remains stationary.

Alternatively, you may feed the plastic piece to the power tool or machine by maneuvering it in a straight line for straight cuts.

1. Cutting ABS Sheet Using a Plastic Cutter

If you want to cut an ABS plastic piece using a plastic cutter (view on Amazon) or a utility knife, you need to confirm that the plastic thickness is 1/8 of an inch. Otherwise, cutting plastic with a higher thickness than 1/8 inches using a plastic cutter will not work.

How to Use a Plastic Cutter and the Importance of the Straight Edge

2. Cutting ABS Plastic Using a Circular Saw

A handheld circular saw (view on Amazon) works best to make linear cuts on ABS plastic sheets larger than 1/8 inches thick.

How to Use a Circular Saw

3. Cutting ABS Plastic Sheet Using a JigSaw

Circular saws remain some of the best tools for making straight cuts. On the contrary, if you want to make curved cuts go for a jigsaw (view on Amazon). A jigsaw provides better mobility which enables you to create curved cuts into the ABS plastic material.

How to Use a Jigsaw to Cut ABS Plastic

4. Cutting ABS Plastic Using a Band Saw

To cut circular and linear plastic curves, you need to use a band saw (view on Amazon). Additionally, a band saw has a long ribbon-like blade that comes up through the table surface. This feature allows you to get the precise cut you desire from a thick ABS plastic.

Steps to Follow when Using a Band Saw to Cut ABS Plastic

Zuvas Black ABS Plastic Sheet 12

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What Do You Cut ABS With?

To cut ABS material, it will be helpful if you get one of these machines and power tools which will enable you to get your desired plastic cut:

To cut a sheet of plastic, the choice of the machine matters. Additionally, manufacturers design each machine with features that enable you to get a specific cut. Both linear and circular cuts will require you to use a different type of machine and equipment.

How Do You Cut Thin ABS Plastic Without Cracking It?

Cutting hard ABS plastic without breaking it remains a difficult task. Luckily, you can use several techniques to ensure you cut the plastic piece without breaking it.

If the plastic is less than 1/2 an inch thick, you can use a string or a hot knife to cut the plastic material straight down the middle.

Additionally, you can use a circular saw to cut thicker plastics.

You can also drill small holes along the cut lines to prevent plastic breakage and make the piece easier to cut using other tools like the utility knife.

Step by Step Ways for Cutting ABS Plastic Without Breaking It

How to Cut Hard Plastic With a Saw Without Breaking It

There are a few types of saw that can cut plastic without breaking it. A saw is a good alternative for cutting a flat ABS plastic sheet or a thick piece of plastic.

So, you can use a hack saw, fine-toothed saw, circular saw, or a jigsaw to cut plastic material. More significantly, it will be helpful to avoid using saws or blades with more prominent teeth as they will easily chip and break the plastic creating a rough edge.

A saw or a sharp blade with fine teeth remains the best option to undertake whenever you want to avoid breakages when cutting plastic.

a) Using a Hot Knife for Cutting

You can use a soldering iron (view on Amazon) to cut through plastic, but first, you must flatten its tip. You may use a hammer or a mallet to flatten the soldering iron tip.

So, you can use the flatten tip to cut through the plastic as it minimizes plastic breakages.

b) Using a Drill to Cut Through Hard Plastic

You can use a drill (view on Amazon) to make holes along your cut line. Then, a fine-toothed saw or a utility knife can cut the remaining plastic.

How Do I Get Perfect ABS Prints?

To get a perfect print from ABS material (view on Amazon), you need to get your first layer right. Also, the first layer will determine the quality of the end product.

So, always calibrate your 3D printer build platform to avoid warping and lift-offs, negatively affecting ABS print quality.

Always check that the heated build platform remains hot. Still, ensure you set it at a temperature of 80-110 degrees Celsius.

This temperature range is ideal when printing with ABS material for the best print quality.

Stringing between separated parts is caused when the extruder leaks plastic amounts between the separated areas due to excessive temperatures in the build platform. More importantly, it diminishes the print quality and should be avoided by all means.

To achieve better ABS print quality, always ensure you use dry ABS filament. Moist filaments compromise the print quality.

Conclusion

The article provides information on how you can cut ABS plastic material. It provides different methods of cutting ABS so you may recognize their impact and how to take part in the process.

It also provides a list of tools used to cut ABS plastic to make it easier for you and information about how to get perfect ABS prints.

Michael Brooks is the founder of M3DZone.com. He sees a very bright future for 3D printing that's why his mission is to try and make this easy for everyone. Discover your hidden talent and creativity. You can follow here: Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.