The term plexiglass can be misleading because it is not really glass. It does look like glass, though, being transparent and clear, but it is actually hard plastic. More technically, plexiglass is a thermoplastic called polymethyl methacrylate. It is also commonly known as acrylic glass or perspex, and is frequently preferred to ordinary glass because it is lighter and more resistant to shattering. As a matter of fact, plexiglass is commonly used as a substitute for ordinary glass. You can see plexiglass used in aquariums, car lights, motorcycle helmet visors, race car windshields, spectator shields in ice hockey rinks, and many others. Plexiglass also has many other uses in medicine and in creative art.
Just like ordinary glass, plexiglass can easily crack or break when you drill a hole through it. Yet, drilling a hole through plexiglass is very possible without breaking or cracking the plexiglass. In this article, you will learn some techniques on how to drill holes in plexiglass without cracking or breaking it in the process.
- Use a flat surface as a work area. The surface should be flat. Lay the plexiglass on the surface and make sure it is immobile. You can do this by securing the plexiglass with a clamp or by using some other means to prevent the plexiglass from moving while you work on it. It may help if you lay the plexiglass on some dense foam about 2 inches thick. The foam will help keep the plexiglass from vibrating too much when you start drilling.
- Mark the drill points. Using a felt-tip marker pen or some other marker, draw small dots or hole points where you expect the holes to be.
- Stick some masking tape on the hole points. Place a piece of masking tape on top of the hole point and another piece of tape parallel to it on the opposite side of the plexiglass. If you cannot see the hole markers underneath the tape, directly draw the hole point markers on the masking tape itself.
- Attach a steel or metal drill bit to your electric drill. A high speed drill will work best for plexiglass. You can also use drill bits made for glass or tile drilling. For holes with a maximum of 1 inch diameter, you can use 1/4-inch bits; for holes larger than an inch, you can use a paddle drill bit.
- Fire up your drill. Drill a pilot hole at first, then drill all the way. Most experts say that lubricant is not necessary when drilling holes in plexiglass. Though, you might want to lubricate the plexiglass while drilling in order to minimize the production of heat through friction. Another reason you might want to use lubrication is to prevent plexiglass dust from flying all over as your high speed drill starts turning. For lubrication, you can use ordinary tap water. Just sprinkle it lightly and only as needed while you are boring those holes.
Drilling plexiglass can be tricky. The strong and high-speed vibration from an electric drill can easily cause the plexiglass to crack or break. Yet, if you follow the simple tips presented in this article, you can successfully drill plexiglass without damaging it.