About Tolerance – Getting tolerance right
In the engineering world, tolerance is the amount of variation a product can have without losing its function. In plastic cutting terms it means the amount that your specification is allowed to be ‘off’ by.
Say you want a plastic sheet measuring 550mm by 550mm. Does it have to be exactly 550mm square or is there some leeway? It matters because the tighter the tolerance – in other words the more accurate it is – the more precise the cut must be. Sometimes you may need a laser-cutting expert to get the tolerance close to 100% accurate.
There is also a tolerance to be aware of when thinking about the thickness of the sheet. Our extruded acrylic has a tolerance of +/- 3%, and our cast acrylic has a tolerance of +/- 10%. If you want to talk abut tolerances, just give our friendly customer service team a call on 01903 389 024.
Figuring out the right tolerance for your cut plastic
We cut most of our plastic using a CNC or laser. We endeavour to cut as accurately as possible though our tolerance may be plus or minus 1mm. That means your cut sheet could be as much as 3mm smaller than the size you specified, or as much as 3mm bigger. Wood can have a cutting tolerance of up to 3mm as sometimes we cut it on the saw.
Having said that, we analysed a bunch of our orders recently and found that almost all of the sheets we cut were less than 1mm different from the size ordered.
No matter who you get your sheet cut by, there's always a small difference between the required size and the cut size. For pinpoint accuracy, laser cutting with Computer Aided Design (CAD) and a CO2 laser cutting machine gives the best results. We can do that for you. While our amazing laser cutting service won’t replace the saw method, it does mean we can make incredibly complex designs with ease.
How to avoid tolerance issues
Option 1: Many items you have in the home may appear completely square at first glance however, they often prove to be a little different depending on where you measure. To get the most accurate measurements of your piece we would suggest measuring the dimensions in a couple of areas, and then submitting the shortest measurements to us for cutting.
Option 2: When submitting your order to us, make sure that you have measured the dimensions you require at least twice, to ensure you get the same measurements on both occasions. If you are measuring something to fit a frame, don’t order the maximum size, allow at least a couple of millimetres leeway.
When we measure and cut the sheets for you, we use a digital measuring tool. Remember that the tool you used to measure your shape may be slightly different - a kink or bend in a tape measure will affect the final measurement you take.
Our preferred unit of measurement is mm.
If you need a precise measurement, why not ask us to cut your acrylic on our laser cutting machine?
What if a tight tolerance is essential?
Is it essential that your sheets are cut more accurately than the tolerances offered by us? If so please get in touch and ask us about our laser cutting service, where we can get down to an accuracy of 0.25mm.
Let's talk tolerance
If you're not completely confident with tolerance and would like to talk things through with an expert before finalising your measurements, we're always pleased to help. Just email us, use our contact form or give us a call on 01903 389024.