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Drilling carbon fiber and polycarbonate

Carbon fiber is a material consisting of fibers about 5–10 micrometers in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. Polycarbonates are used in engineering and are strong, tough materials, some optically transparent and they contain carbon groups in their structure. I am going to tell you how to make drilling these to materials simple.

How to drill carbon fiber

Drilling is a difficult machining procedure on carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is constructed of layers of material that could easily splinter or delaminate during machining. Drilling speed must be adjusted based on the size and depth of hole and special drill bits designed specifically for carbon fiber help eliminate delamination during drilling. When you do decide to drill it, use a sharp drill bit on a low RPM. You need to sandwich the material between two pieces of metal or use a backing to get a cleaner cut. Please make sure that you have it held down or against an item and steadied. It is advisable to use a light and continuous stream of compressed air to blow away any dust or chips. If you have to drill more five holes, have another sharpened drill ready as carbon fiber wears out HSS (high speed steel) drill bits quickly. If you can afford ten, diamond drill bits will work wonders. However, they are very expensive. You also have the option of using a carbide drill bit.

How to drill polycarbonate

Today, polycarbonate plastic has many applications due to its high strength and flame-retardant properties. It is used to make bulletproof windows, often as a security device in banks and stores. Polycarbonate is an expensive fabrication material, and production are costly.

When drilling polycarbonate you need use a proper drill bit. Drill bits manufactured specifically for plastics work best when drilling polycarbonate. Metal working, high-speed twist drill bits can be used with some minor modification. You also have the option of using acrylic drill bits, standard HSS drill bits, and some user warmly recommend a Forstner bit which will give you a nice clean hole with no melting.

Select the drill bit that matches the size hole you want to drill in polycarbonate and insert the correctly sized high-speed drill bit into a drill press’ chuck. Make sure you have adjusted the drill press’ speed to between 350 and 1750 revolutions per minute, or RPMs. Or simply adjust the speed according to your drill press operator’s manual.

Maintain drill feed pressure sufficient to form a nonstop spiral-shaped chip. This chip forms as the drill advances through the polycarbonate material. Frequently stop and remove any debris from the drill bit. Use air or water for a coolant if the drill bit turns out to be hot enough to melt, rather than cut, the polycarbonate. Continue drilling slowly until the hole in the polycarbonate is complete.

2 Comments

  1. You realize the advice you gave is drill holes in carbon fiber at low rpm, while the video you linked states that carbon fiber has a very high sfm value, meaning if you have 6000 revs/min.

    This is entirely contradictory and needs to be rectified.

    Reply

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