CNC router to cut 1/16 plastic

Has anyone used a CNC router to cut 1/16 plastic sheets for VEX parts? If so, what machine did you use? How did it work out? I’m looking to get something very simple to get my kids (and myself) started.

@Chase1082b or @Uncharted25461 would know, if you are capable of getting a hold of one of them.

Chase built a robot with a lot of CNC’d lexan, squeezing as many lightweight plastic pieces from one single sheet, as shown in the image in this topic post in the thread:

The CNC router used to cut the lexan was the XCarve from Zander (upwards of $1-2K).

Talking to Chase on Discord, he suggests trying this one for $200-300, but the printbed would be small where you would need to cut some, move the lexan sheet, then continue cutting.


( This is a worthwhile exercise for efficient use of materials, but we should note for the uninitiated that it isn’t necessary for compliance with competition rules. You can use multiple different plasic sheet types, so long as each material used is legal, and the set of parts you create (in their unbended state) can be tesselated inside a 12" by 24" rectangular frame. Folk without efficient cutters can go ahead and use scissors for a rough cut followed by filing back to a line, for example, and on multiple sheets. Answered: <R7.f> Clarification Request:"As cut from a single 12"*24" sheet" ref. area or perimeter? So don’t struggle to get your parts out of a single sheet.)


I would recommend investing in a pair of aviation snips at the very least. extremely useful for cutting plastic and even sheet metal. here’s what i use:

you can use them for anything from cutting up c channels to opening stubborn cardboard boxes to making lexan gussets

i actually made the locking slider mechanism in my profile picture with nothing but aviation snips. here are some closeups

for those who care, here’s a vid of it locking

(it’s a lot lower friction than it appears in the vid, was just hard to hold it closed at the right angle with 1 hand)

and here it is on our worlds tt bot:

it was used alongside the mechanism seen here:

which was used to keep the arm at a harsher angle for sizing. the slider on the arm was then used to change the maximum and minimum stroke of the cube lock to match that of the new minimum arm angle.

anyways, as for the original question, i would recommend the 3018 cnc router. it’s found under all sorts of brand names but it’s super cheap and will cut vex plastic no problem. here’s one sold on amazon. there are also all sorts of diy upgrades that can be found online if you ever want to boost performance:

another equally valid way to cut lexan is with a vertical bandsaw or scroll saw. band saws and scroll saws are incredibly useful because you can use them to make clean cuts on all sorts of other vex components too, and saves you from using a hacksaw. heres a good one:

as long as you use a blade meant for curved cuts, this will work great for all sorts of detail work on lexan- including making lexan gussets. if you want a straight cut on a c channel, you can easily equip a straight cutting blade instead

as for scroll saws, i’ve heard great things about the ryobi model, but havent used it personally. instead i have a 50 year old scroll saw that barely works lol

scroll saws are nice for interior cutting, which isn’t entirely necessary for most operations in vex, but does have its uses. other than that, it can cut straight pretty well just like a bandsaw, but is limited by its throat depth.


Thank you @Conner


1 Like