Plastic Polishing Methods and How They Affect a Component’s Quality

In the world of plastic processing, a variety of polishing methods are used to boost the clarity and aesthetics of plastic components. Cloudiness and stress cracking are common issues clients can face when they choose companies without adequate experience. Skilled professionals in the industry will not only machine your component, but also implement the correct plastic polishing method. Partnering with a qualified plastic machining shop – rather than a metal machining shop – will save you time and money.

Flame and Vapor Polishing
These are two commonly used procedures. Flame polishing is ideal for flat, external surfaces, while vapor polishing is used to perfect both external and internal components. Just as their names suggest, flame and vapor polishing processes utilize flames and chemical vapors, respectively, to polish polycarbonate and acrylic pieces.

To achieve the best, most satisfying results, top-notch equipment and skilled operators are needed to complete flame and vapor polishing. Generally, these methods work best on expertly-machined pieces only. Otherwise, stress cracking and other issues can develop immediately after.

Mechanical and Direct Polishing
Mechanical polishing and direct machining are used to achieve the same goal, but differ when it comes to the work involved. Mechanical plastic polishing is a simplistic method, and works wonders on virtually all forms of plastic. While mechanical polishing is easy to implement, it becomes problematic when optical quality is a concern. This is because tiny scratches are etched into the surface of the piece. Direct machining, on the other hand, may require more technical prowess and tooling skill, but it produces clearer, more aesthetically pleasing pieces.

Another common polishing method is buffing, which involves the use of a cotton wheel and cutting compound. When it comes to creating aesthetically appealing pieces, buffing is the go-to method. Buffing is typically used to polish large, external pieces, but doesn’t produce the same satisfying results when applied to internal components.

Unlike direct machining, buffing doesn’t produce the clearest pieces, despite their satisfactory appearances. Like mechanical polishing, the buffing process scratches the surface of a piece repeatedly and multi-directionally. While it adds a nice touch to plastic components, it does little to boost their clarity.

PEP Connecticut Plastics is fully familiar with virtually all plastic polishing procedures. To contact them for more information, visit

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