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The Ease of Machining Certain Plastics

The Ease of Machining Certain Plastics

Plastics are overtaking metals in the manufacture of many parts, and for good reason: They’re lightweight, durable, consistently high quality, and resistant to more chemicals. But one of the biggest reasons is because plastics are so much easier to machine. The manufacturing process is less labor intensive, which saves on energy and hours. The low cost of raw materials, as well as the ease of machining certain plastics, explains why these materials are so cost effective.

Of course, there are hundreds of plastics you can use, with different properties that affect functionality, appearance, and more. New plastics are introduced all the time, so it can be hard to know which to choose for your custom-machined plastic parts. A great place to start, though, is by learning why we prefer to machine with them. Here’s a sampling of our favorites.


Also known by its trademark name, Delrin, acetal is an engineering plastic that’s prized for its high strength, low friction, and superior wear properties. It’s also an excellent choice in wet applications because of its low water absorption. Acetal is often the choice for gears, bearings, medical parts, valves, and seals.


Also known by the trademarked name Plexiglass and other brands, this transparent material is strong, flexible, and easy to handle. An alternative to glass, acrylic is scratch resistant and ideal for gluing. You’ll find acrylic in custom parts such as automotive trim, household appliances, and anything that needs to hold water; it’s even used in windows for submarines.


Also known as PPO, Noryl’s chemical composition is particularly resistant to attacks from water, most salt solutions, acids, and bases. It has excellent electrical insulating properties over a wide range of humidity and pressure. It’s also one of the few nonmetallic materials that can be readily electroplated. Some of the applications for Noryl include electronics, telecommunications, surgical instruments, and water pump components.


Nylon is an ideal material for many environments, maintaining its strength and rigidity in hot and cold climates. It’s self-lubricating, which makes it a good choice for rotary and sliding bearing applications, and it’s known for its flexible ability to bend. You’ll find nylon in seat belts, athletic clothes, military equipment, ropes—pretty much everywhere.


Part of the family of polyamide-imide materials, Torlon is the highest-performing melt-processable plastics that is useful for machining. Torlon has high-impact strength, excellent radiation, top-notch electrical insulation, and superior resistance to chemicals and high temperatures. It’s used for seals, valves, rotors, sockets, and much more.

There are additional materials to choose from at Miller Plastics, of course, because more people are discovering them as better alternatives to metal. The ease of machining certain plastics has a lot to do with that because it has a big influence on your bottom line. For any questions about your specific needs, contact us. We look forward to helping you find the perfect plastic for your project.

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