Working w/plastics


We have a small project starting up today and would like to make sure we are using the proper tools and practices.

Is it okay to use the Haas, Bridgeport and large lathe, etc. to machine plastic parts (assuming one is trained to use the machines)?

Where is the best place in DMS to sand plastics - in particular, 3D printed parts?
Adding @Team_3D_Fab for recommendations too.



Machine Shop has always allowed Plastics to be machined and are regularly machined. Some materials like Carbon Fiber create particular problems do to the hazardous dust issue.

Plastics is now formally part of Machine Shop and has a SIG - for those processes not covered by 3D, Laser cutting, etc. When we move into 102 there will be designated area dedicated to plastics and tools for their use.

Sanding is always an issue in the dust that it generates. This is especially true for “fiberglass” based items and Bondo - it is related as much to the smell and headaches it causes as anything else.


we don’t have dust collection for sanding so that’s a problem.
The only real alternative is to do it outside.


How small? 'cuz if it’s a small part, I’m guessing you won’t be able to raise enough particulates to make a big impact on anyone.

I’m not trying to be a jerk here - I’m just pointing out that if it’s truly small, then sanding it might not be an issue.

If not, how about using one of the Woodshop Festool sanders? Those have their own dust collection system. Sure it will gum up the sandpaper, but you’ll be either providing or reimbursing the sandpaper (consumable) anyway.

EDIT: If it’s a small part, you might consider repurposing an old electric toothbrush as a sander. Pull out the bristles and glue a circle of sandpaper on the brush head.


@team_woodshop is the sander with an attached vacuum safe to use with plastics? I’m assuming one would need to provide and/or but a pad for it.



I don’t speak for Woodshop, but my belief is this is generally OK. Sandpaper should be discarded after use so plastics don’t inadvertently get used on someone’s wood-based project.

I don’t think the pad on the sanders would be an issue either way, just the paper. But maybe…?


In the new Plastics Area there will be a dedicated dust collector. DMS was donated a very nice dust collector, basically brand new. Due to lack of storage space, I am storing it in my garage.

Delta 50-850 Dust Collector.pdf (407.2 KB)


Can’t wait. Can’t wait. Can’t wait.
Oh, we have to wait.


Ask people to do it in the general workshop area instead of the Machine Shop?

I doubt we can prohibit all sanding in the general workshop.


There is a “vapor hone” method that can be done on 3d printed parts to smooth out the ripples. Ive heard it mentioned but not sure if the 3d print committee has a persistent vapor hone booth.