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Glossary of the different possible finishes on your plexiglass or plastics

After cutting a plastic, it is possible to choose the finish on the edge of the material. These edge finishes can be worked with different tools. In this blog, we will explore the different finishes possible on your plastics, either raw, economical, or high-end finishes.

Raw finishes

When we talk about a raw finish, we are talking about a finish that has not received any additional treatment after the cutting. This finish does not generate any additional cost.

Saw kerf finish

The kerf finish is the roughest finish we can offer. Although the blades we use and our cutting is perfected, slight streaks are visible on the edge of the material. All plastics can be cut on a table saw.

CNC cut finish

CNC cutting can offer several levels of finishes depending on the material worked and the cutting parameters. The slice is smooth and without streaks. On the other hand, the edges can be sharp, which could lead to having them to be removed the sharp edges (see next section). CNC cutting can also work on the thickness of the plastic, leaving a finish or the outline of the cutting slightly more apparent. CNC cutting allows the cutting of almost all plastics: ABS, Alupanel, Acrylic, HDPE, MPVC, Polycarbonate, Styrene, UHMW, etc.

Laser polished finish

For laser cutting, it is possible to cut mostly acrylic and other plastic under certain conditions. The laser cut leaves the edge of the plexiglass with slight streaks and sometimes a lip. The finish may differ depending on the cutting speed, thickness and type of material.

* Please know that the polished finish makes the acrylic more sensitive to cleaning products.

Economic finishes

Economic finishes are a good alternative when raw cutting is not enough. It brings a little something extra to your product. The product looks more complete.

Edges removed finish

When the edges of your plastic are sharp, it is possible to remove these sharp edges with a tool specifically designed for this purpose or by adding a bevel with a router. This finish is recommended when the plastic is handled or installed in a high traffic area. This technique is usually done after CNC cutting or currying.

Wrought finish

The wrought finish can be done on most plastics. It is a process where the material slides on a rotating knife leaving the surface of the slice smooth and soft. In general, this technique is made with a table saw cut in order to remove the visible streaks of the blade. It is ideal for plastics that need to be finished but not ones that will be frequently touched or manipulated.

Flame polished finish

The flame polished finish is the middle finish between the laser finish and the cotton wheel finish. Flame polishing is only done on acrylic. It is a quick finish to do when there are several pieces of the same format since we can polish them in a stack. For a better quality finish, polishing with a flame is the best option.

* Please know that the polished finish makes the acrylic more sensitive to cleaning products.

High-end finishes

The high-end finishes are exceptional in terms of quality. They are made manually for a flawless result on your plastic.

Sanded finish

It is possible to sand your acrylic to remove the glossy finish. This way, the edge of your piece is matte and without reflections. Sanded (280 grain paper) is done manually with an orbital, which can leave slight irregular marks on the plexiglass. This finish is fragile to fingerprints, so you have to apply a product regularly to saturate the material.

Sandblast finish

For small acrylic pieces, it is possible to remove the glossy finish with sandblasting. Smoother than standard sanding, the sandblast finish leaves the plastic brittle to finger marks. We therefore suggest the regular application of a product to saturate the material as well.

Polished finish with a cotton wheel

The cotton wheel finish is considered grade A in terms of quality. This is the method used to polish thicker acrylics or when you want an impeccable finish like a trophy for example. This technique is done after sandblasting so that the slices are perfectly smooth. Although this finish leaves small residues of paste on the edges of the backing paper, cleaning is easily done. It's the perfect finish.

* Once again, please note that the polished finish makes the acrylic more sensitive to cleaning products.

Resumed below are the finishes possible by materials.

The world of plastics has a multitude of particularities! Some materials may have some type of finishes while others may not. If in doubt, do not hesitate to contact us for advice on your project.


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