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Cutting FRP with a Rotary Engraver

Cutting FRP with a Rotary Engraver
Can you cut shapes out of the Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic used for sublimation with a rotary engraver? Absolutely.

Universal Woods, the folk who make UNISUB® products for Conde, uses a CNC machine to cut most of their FRP and a CNC is nothing more than a big, heavy duty rotary engraver.

Getting a good cut, however, requires that you pay attention to the following details:
1. Cut the material face up with the protective film on the product.
2. Use a nosepiece that rides directly on top of the plastic. This also means you will use a vacuum system to remove the chips as they are being cut.
3. The FRP must be securely taped to a sacrificial piece of plastic so your cutting tool doesn’t touch the engraving table when it breaks through the FRP.
4. FRP is approximately 3/16” thick. Cut the material using at least three passes. Don’t try to cut all the way through in a single pass. Although you may be able to do so, it will place unnecessary stress on the mechanics of your engraver causing excessive wear.
5. If you want a bevel, use a .010” or .020” profile cutter. If you want a straight edge, use a .030” end mill cutter.
6. Wear safety glasses, especially when using an end mill cutter since these cutters are known to snap and the tip becomes a missile that could easily put out an eye.
7. A very light touch with 200 grit sandpaper will smooth up any imperfections.

Having the ability to cut your own shapes is especially useful for cutting out custom shapes for name badges, key fobs and small signs.

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