Can You Drill 3D Printed FDM ABS Plastic?

Posted in 3D Printing on February 26th, 2011 by Gregg

In word sure, but use simple standard techniques similar to what you would use drilling wood. You can see it demonstrated on youtube by clicking HERE. Consider what 3D printed FDM plastic is. It’s a pattern of plastic “threads” melted together like a plastic cloth. The pattern of the cloth depends on the shape of the part.

You can go to Engos’ 3D print page and clink on the picture of the gray part that looks like a funny shaped window about half way down to the left to see a close-up of the pattern. These plastic threads act like the grain in a piece of wood. If you do not support the grain as the drill pushes through the bottom the grain or threads will be pulled down with the drill and splinter. So simply hold the part firmly down against something firm you can drill into (like wood) and it will support the threads and allow them to be cut instead of pulled out.

You clean up the hole edges of your 3D printed FDM ABS plastic part top and bottom using a countersink tool or simply a much larger drill tip to add a bevel. Just don’t be too aggressive.

The Part 2 follow up to this video will show the unsupported 3D printed FDM ABS plastic part being drilled and what the splinter bottom edge looks like. Further in the series we will be cutting and adding threaded inserts so check back and\or sign up for our e-mail newsletter at the Engocorp Opt-In or RSS feed on the blog page for notifications etc.

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