CNC ABS machining stands at the forefront of modern manufacturing, reflecting a growing demand in diverse industries. This surge in popularity owes much to ABS plastic's versatility and the precision CNC machining offers.

With industrial changes, the demand for ABS parts that are suitably designed to meet specific requirements grows thus making CNC machining a vital tool in production lines.

What will you learn?

This article discusses the different aspects of CNC ABS machining, which includes its advantages and applications as well. For a thorough understanding of this manufacturing service, we will discuss ABS plastic types, machining processes as well as efficiency considerations, and applicability by sector.

CNC ABS machining

1. What is ABS Plastic?

ABS plastic, or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, stands out in the world of thermoplastic polymers. Its unique composition of acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene lends it a balance of properties sought after in precision manufacturing.

Acrylonitrile contributes chemical and thermal resilience, butadiene ensures toughness, while styrene adds rigidity. This synergy makes ABS an ideal candidate for CNC machining services.

ABS Plastic Machining

Key Properties of ABS:

  • Mechanical Strength: ABS boasts a tensile strength of 29.6 – 48 MPa, ensuring durability under load. Its robust structure supports high mechanical strength and load-bearing, crucial for structural parts in demanding environments.
  • Impact Strength: With an impressive impact strength of 20 kJ/m² (notched) and 58 kJ/m² (unnotched), ABS excels in applications facing regular shocks, like aircraft boarding stairs.
  • Chemical Resistance: ABS's resilience to chemicals like acids and alkalis makes it versatile, though it's sensitive to certain substances like aromatic esters.
  • Hardness: Its hardness range of 200 – 215 J/m signifies scratch and abrasion resistance, pivotal for structural components.
  • Electrical Insulation: ABS functions effectively as an insulator against high-voltage shocks, a critical attribute for electronic components.
  • Flexibility: ABS maintains a balance between rigidity and flexibility, accommodating moderate deformation without damage, suitable for parts like snap-fit assemblies.




1.04 – 1.07 g/cm³

Melting Point

190 – 220 °C

Impact Strength

15 – 30 KJ/m²

Flexural Modulus

2.0 – 2.5 GPa

Surface Hardness

100 – 103 Rockwell M

Thermal Conductivity

0.13 – 0.16 W/mK

Tensile Strength

40 – 50 MPa

ABS Grades:

  1. Flame-Retardant ABS: Enhanced for fire safety, this grade suits critical applications in electrical, automotive, and building sectors.
  2. High-Impact ABS: Designed for extreme toughness, this grade is essential for protective gear and automotive parts facing impact stresses.
  3. Heat-Resistant ABS: This grade withstands high temperatures, ideal for automotive parts and electrical enclosures operating in heat-intensive conditions.
  4. UV-Resistant ABS: With additives for UV protection, this grade ensures durability in outdoor applications prone to sun exposure.
  5. FDA-Compliant ABS: Meeting FDA standards, this grade is safe for food contact, and used in food processing and packaging.

2. CNC ABS Machining Services - An Overview

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. CAD Model Creation: The process starts with a detailed CAD model that defines every contour line and dimension of the desired part.
  2. Material Selection: Choosing the right ABS grade sets the foundation for the machining process, aligning the material properties with the part's intended function.
  3. CNC Machining Process: The ABS material undergoes various machining techniques, each tailored to achieve specific features and dimensions.
  4. Final Inspection: The stringent quality assurance process ensures that the final part meets design specifications and standards.
  5. Delivery: Once all quality requirements are satisfied, the final produced item is delivered to the client concluding the process.

ABS Machining Techniques:

·       CNC Milling ABS:

CNC milling carves intricate details from ABS material with unmatched precision. This method relies on rotating tools that meticulously remove material, guided by optimized speed and feed rates. Cooling is vital due to ABS's low melting point, ensuring the material remains intact during the process.

·       CNC Turning ABS

Turning excels in shaping cylindrical ABS parts. The ABS workpiece spins while a cutting tool meticulously trims the material. Precision tool angles and clamping methods are crucial, ensuring the final part meets the design's exact dimensions and finish.

·       CNC Drilling ABS

Drilling adds functional features like holes, essential for parts requiring assembly. The process demands sharp tools and moderate speed to maintain accuracy and prevent ABS material from overheating.

·       Engraving

Engraving adds aesthetic and functional details to ABS parts. This technique requires high-precision tools and a controlled depth of cut, ensuring every engraved line contributes to the part's overall design and functionality.

Rally Precision understands that ABS machining is not just another process; it’s the art of converting material into a part that meets high standards. The combination of our expertise in CNC ABS machining services and modern technology ensures that every part manufactured is a symbol of quality and accuracy. 

CNC ABS Plastic Milling

3. Top 4 Considerations for Efficient CNC ABS Machining

1.   Choosing the Right ABS Grade:

The selection of ABS grade significantly impacts the machining process. Machine-grade ABS is designed specifically for tasks like CNC milling, turning, or drilling. This ensures optimal chip formation and a high-quality surface finish.

In this regard, Rally Precision's expertise selects the ABS grade that aligns perfectly with the specific needs of the project.

2.   Appropriate Tool Selection:

Tool selection is crucial in ABS machining. Tools tailored for high-strength metals may not be suitable for ABS plastics. It's essential to use cutting tools specifically designed for plastics. Keeping these tools sharp is equally important to prevent surface damage and maintain the integrity of the ABS material.

3.   Adjusting Cutting Parameters:

The depth of CNC machining, along with the cutting speed and feed rate, plays a crucial role. Incorrect parameters can lead to part deformation or machining chatter. Experience in fine-tuning these parameters is vital to prevent heat buildup and ensure the quality of the machined parts.

4.   Coolant Usage

A suitable coolant prevents ABS from overheating and deforming during machining. A plastic-specific, non-aromatic, water-soluble coolant is essential. Coolants can be applied differently depending on the part's design and machining process.

ABS CNC Machining Services

4. Suitable Surface Finishes for ABS Machined Parts

Surface finishing is a critical phase in CNC machining, enhancing the aesthetic and functional attributes of ABS parts. Various methods offer distinct advantages, aligning with the specific needs of the project.

Employing advanced manufacturing technologies, these finishes elevate the quality and durability of ABS components.

·      Anodizing:

While traditionally used on metals, anodizing can apply to ABS post metallization. This process augments the part's resistance to wear and corrosion. It also modifies the surface to better absorb dyes or adhesives, enhancing the part's visual appeal and functionality.

·      Bead Blasting:

Bead blasting refines ABS surfaces by employing abrasive particles like sand or glass beads. This method uniformly smoothens the surface, creating a matte texture. The result is a visually appealing, uniform finish that significantly enhances the part's appearance and feel.

·      Painting:

Adhesive painting is a versatile finishing option for ABS parts. It allows for color customization, meeting specific design requirements. Preparing the surface with bead blasting before painting ensures optimal paint adhesion and durability.

·      Sanding and Polishing:

Sanding and polishing are essential for achieving a smooth surface on ABS parts. These processes eliminate tool marks and prepare the surface for further finishing or direct use. Whether done manually or with automated machinery, sanding and polishing are foundational steps in ensuring a flawlessly smooth and prepared surface for ABS parts.

Metal Surface Finishing

5. Benefits and Challenges of Custom ABS Machining

Benefits of CNC Machining ABS

  • Machinability: ABS's high machinability ensures seamless CNC operations. It's gentle on tools and eliminates the risk of workpiece damage. This attribute is crucial for achieving tight tolerances and smooth surface finishes.
  • Precision and Complexity:ABS machining meets the highest standards of precision, even with complex designs. The correct tool setup and cutting parameters contribute to the exceptional dimensional accuracy of CNC machined ABS parts, often reaching tolerances as low as ± 0.005mm.
  • Cost-Efficiency: ABS is a cost-effective engineering thermoplastic, leading to reduced production times and costs. The minimal risk of defects further lowers the overall cost, marking ABS as an economically viable option.
  • Recyclability: In line with sustainable practices, ABS is fully recyclable. Post-use, it can be reformed into new sheets or bars, offering both cost and environmental benefits.

Challenges of Custom ABS Machining

  • Maintaining Surface Quality: Achieving a flawless surface finish demands precision. Incorrect tool selection, cutting parameters, or excessive heat can mar the surface quality, presenting challenges in maintaining the aesthetic and functional integrity of ABS parts.
  • Handling Distortion: ABS exhibits notable thermal expansion. Machinists must skillfully navigate this trait to avoid material removal that can result in distortion once the part cools and contracts.
  • Mitigating High Temperature Factor: The low heat deflection temperature and thermal conductivity of ABS can cause rapid heating buildup. This requires strict process control during machining to avoid softening and distortion of the plastic.
CNC ABS machining service

6. Key Applications of ABS Machining in Various Industries

ABS machining's versatility is evident in its widespread applications across various industries. Each sector benefits from ABS's unique properties, tailoring the material to meet specific needs.

·      Automotive:

In the automotive, ABS is admired for its high strength-to-weight ratio, glossy surface finish, scratch resistance, and impact resistance. It is applied in the production of elements such as protective bumpers, interior decorations, wheel covers, and other components like steering parts.

·      Medical:

In the medical field, ABS is used for its strength, toughness, and biological compatibility. Manufacturers use ABS in producing components such as nebulizers, compressors, pharmaceutical containers, and housing of apparatuses used in labs. Its lightweight and processability make it suitable for developing delicate yet sturdy parts that are critical in the design of medical devices.

·      Electronics:

The electronics industry depends on ABS because of electricity insulation, thermal stability, and resistance to moisture.

It is employed in the fabrication of enclosures, insulation systems, power plugs, and computer keyboards. These ABS parts ensure the safety and functionality of electronic devices, standing up to the industry's exacting requirements.

·      Defense:

The defense sector demands materials that combine lightweight with high-impact strength and toughness. ABS meets these needs, being used in protective headgear, hard hats, and defense pads. Its durability under extreme conditions makes it a preferred choice for protective gear in challenging environments.

·      Food Processing

ABS's thermal stability and resistance to strain, abrasion, and chemicals are critical in the food processing industry.

It finds application in juice presses, refrigerator liners, packaging, food processors, ovens, and food dryers. ABS guarantees the safety and longevity of equipment in this sector by adhering to the stringent requirements for cleanliness and productivity.

7. Trends in CNC Technology for ABS Machining

Current trends in CNC technology are shaping the future of ABS machining, focusing on precision, efficiency, and sustainability. Advanced automation and AI integration are streamlining operations, enhancing accuracy in custom ABS machining.

Moreover, the integration of IoT and real-time data analysis in CNC machines is enabling predictive maintenance and real-time monitoring. This not only increases machine longevity but also ensures consistent quality in ABS machining.

As these trends evolve, they promise to bring even greater precision, efficiency, and sustainability to CNC ABS machining services, aligning with the industry's forward-moving trajectory.

Get Your CNC Machined ABS Parts from Rally Precision

Rally Precision excels in custom CNC ABS machining services, harnessing advanced manufacturing technologies to deliver top-tier plastic machining services. Our expertise spans from selecting the right ABS grade to implementing precise machining techniques, ensuring quality and precision in every component.

With a commitment to staying ahead of industry trends, Rally is the go-to for innovative and efficient CNC machined ABS parts. For unmatched precision in ABS machining, trust our expertise. Contact us today for your custom ABS machining needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is ABS plastic easy to machine?

Yes, ABS plastic is renowned for its ease of machining. Its balanced properties of strength, rigidity, and thermal stability make it a favorable choice for CNC machining processes.

2. Which plastic is suitable for prototypes? ABS or HDPE?

ABS is often preferred for prototyping due to its superior strength, finish, and ease of machining. While HDPE is also used, ABS offers better surface finish and detailing capabilities as compared to HDPE.

3. What are suitable methods to produce ABS parts?

Most parts of ABS are manufactured using CNC machining, injection molding, or 3D printing. CNC machining offers flexibility in design and accuracy. Injection molding is associated with mass-production while undertaking rapid prototyping of products having complex geometries using 3D printing.

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