HDPE is a plastic with a good strength-to-density ratio used for various purposes. Learn how to CNC machine HDPE, how to set up your ZMorph VX and Voxelizer, and what are the most common applications.

CNC milled HDPE samples and ZMorph VX All-In-One 3D Printer.
CNC milled HDPE samples.

What is HDPE?

HDPE stands for high-density polyethylene. It is a thermoplastic with excellent moisture and chemical resistance, good impact strength, and a large strength-to-density ratio. This material is resistant to weather factors and is therefore often used for outdoor applications.

HDPE sample CNC milled on ZMorph VX.
CNC milled HDPE sample.

ZMorph VX also supports LDPE (low-density polyethylene). This material will be covered in another article.

How to CNC Machine HDPE?

HDPE is not that easy to machine and therefore we recommend milling in this material only for more advanced ZMorph users. Below you’ll find some useful information on CNC machining HDPE.

CNC PRO Milling Toolhead and HDPE sheet.
CNC PRO Milling Toolhead and HDPE sheet.

Voxelizer Settings

Because HDPE requires higher milling speeds we recommend setting Voxelizer to 7-12 mm/s. Slower speeds might clog your cutter. If you have problems with broken milling bits, check out our tips on how to avoid breaking cutters.

Workpiece Holding

The safest way to mount HDPE sheets on the VX CNC worktable is to use plastic clamps added to every VX Full Set. Alternatively, the clamps can be 3D printed (the STL file should be on the SD card that came with your ZMorph VX). Remember that proper material mounting is one of the key factors for a successful project.

End Mills

For milling in HDPE and similar plastics, we recommend universal single or double flute bits. End mills bundles are available in our online store.

CNC machining HDPE.
HDPE sheet and CNC PRO Milling Toolhead.

Other 

Don’t forget to vacuum every now and then if you work on a bigger project. Bits and shavings may clog your device.

We recommend milling with closed covers – this way there is less chance of small particles escaping the enclosure of the machine. Be sure not to touch moving parts of the unit while it’s working because that may cause injuries. 

HDPE Applications

Thanks to its features, HDPE can be used for 3D printing containers for some chemicals. It’s also widely used as a material for prototyping, tooling, fixturing, and casings.

Samples

HDPE cable holder. CNC machining HDPE.
HDPE cable holder CNC machined using ZMorph VX All-In-One 3D Printer.
HDPE casing. CNC machining HDPE.
HDPE casing CNC milled using ZMorph VX All-In-One 3D Printer.

Health & Safety

ZMorph VX and the CNC PRO Milling Toolhead operate on high speed therefore you should never touch the moving parts of the machine while it’s working. You may seriously injure yourself. Additionally, watch out for loose clothing and long hair as they might get tangled in the machine. 

While CNC milling in HDPE be sure that the room is ventilated properly and don’t forget to take care of your hearing as the CNC operations tend to get quite noisy. Headphones are recommended.

CNC machined HDPE.
CNC milling in HDPE is not easy but possible with ZMorph VX.

ZMorph Materials Library

ZMorph VX All-In-One 3D Printer works with almost 50 engineering materials for subtractive and additive manufacturing. To learn about their most important features, popular applications, and check the technical data, download the ZMorph Materials Library or read it online for free. Don’t forget to check the ZMorph Blog regularly for more articles of this kind.

ZMorph Materials Library

Author

Content Manager at ZMorph

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