Selecting the Correct Saw Blade For Plastics Fabrication


by Kent Kerns, Atlas Saw & Tool, LLC


nderstanding the material you are working with and the machines you are using to make cuts is the most important part of sawing plastics. This information is used to select saw blades that can achieve the cleanest cuts without chipping or melting materials. Using our knowledge and experience, we would like to share with you four categories of blades designed for different performance plastic materials. Each category has blades with different tooth geometries and tooth counts to help you succeed in your cutting process.

Acrylic blades

Cast and extruded acrylics, polycarbonate and PETG: ATB+R (Alternate Top Bevel + Raker Tooth) this aggressive tooth geometry creates a shearing action rather than a plow action to prevent blow out or chipping on the bottom of the cut, while leaving a clean finish in the field. Blade tooth count ranges from 80 to 120 teeth depending on thickness of the material. Blades with higher tooth count are better suited for thin materials, while lower tooth counts are better suited for thick materials.

Mechanical blades

Nylon, ABS, polypropylene: Modified ATB tooth geometry is designed to create less friction during the cut, allowing chips to clear the cut area without melting or rewelding to the bottom. Blade tooth count ranges from 24 to 45 depending on thickness of material.

UHMW and HDPE: Modified ATB tooth geometry creates a chip that clears very easily and is heavy enough for the dust extraction system to remove while leaving a smooth finish. Tooth count ranges from 48 to 80 depending on thickness of material.

PVC: Modified TCG (triple chip grind) with a very neutral tooth design eases into the material without creating tear out in the field or heating the chips on extraction. Blade tooth count ranges from 60 to 80.

Glass filled mechanical plastic: PCD (polycrystalline diamond) tipped saw blade with modified ATB. These blades have the same geometry required for nylon fabrication, but the glass content is very abrasive and would dull the carbide of a blade meant for nylon very quickly. PCD is a material which will withstand the abrasive nature of this material and support normal saw blade life. Blade tooth count ranges from 45 to 60.

Phenolic blades
Paper linen canvas: Modified ATB+R geometry creates a shearing action that prevents a wavy or frizzy cut along the bottom edge. These blades do not create chips, and instead turn material to a powder form for easy extraction. Saw blade tooth count varies between 72 and 100.

Glass: Diamond grit blades are suited for glass cutting, these blades can have a continuous rim or can be slotted. They create a grinding action which turns material to powder rather than chip form. Glass can be very abrasive and difficult to cut using carbide tipped saw blades without damaging the material.

Atlas saw blade
Signage blades
Formboard, gatorboard, sintra: HIAT/SF (high alternate top; shear face) blades have an extreme alternate top bevel with a steep face shear that will prevent tear out on the top and bottom of cuts on these very sensitive materials. These blades have a very high tooth count from 140 to 180.

Dibond/ACM: Modified TCG design on this saw blade will create small fine chips on the aluminum leaving no burrs top or bottom. While the no melt side clearance will not melt or tear out leaving a perfectly clean cut. Tooth count is 100 to 140.

Virtually all materials can be cut by saws, provided the saw blade being used has the appropriate tooth count and geometry. Consulting saw blade experts on your fabrication projects will help ensure that you are selecting the right blade for your material to achieve the cleanest cuts.

Kent Kerns is a Plastics Application Specialist at Atlas Saw & Tool, LLC. For more information contact Atlas Saw & Tool, LLC at 7801 Industrial Court, Suite B, Spring Grove, IL 60081-8298, USA; phone (888) 484-1488; email sales@atlassaw-tool.com or www.fletcher-terry.com