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Accurately cutting shapes into a credit card sized pice of plastic

  1. Aug 15, 2009 #1
    As the title suggests, i have to make cuts in a piece of plastic about the same dimensions as a credit card. the shapes themselves are fairly simple, mostly triangles, with 4 quarter circles on the corners. the device i have in mind would be something which i guess looks like a mechanical pencil, but instead of lead points there would be a wire which would heat up so that i can just basically melt straight through the plastic. does anyone have a suggestion for a device i can use for this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 15, 2009 #2


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    Is there any particular reason that you can't just use a heavy pair of scissors or a paper slicer? As for the corners, that can be easily done after the initial cuts with a simple punch-press. I used one of those for rounding the corners of stickers at the print shop, but you can get dies in different configurations.
  4. Aug 16, 2009 #3

    Ranger Mike

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    before we had photo drivers licenses, it was possible to "alter" the DOT plastic ID with a small blade screwdriver heated on a hot plate...so birthdate appeared way earlier than the State DL showed when issued...was good enough to pass for proper ID when the goon at the local bar entrance was carding you...so I was told..not that I ever did this,,understand...btw the charge for this " service" was one six pack!
  5. Aug 17, 2009 #4


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    If they were any good at this, wouldn't they have been able to get their own? :biggrin:

    Although it is payment + verification in one step!
  6. Aug 17, 2009 #5

    Ranger Mike

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    my room mate forgot that he had the card ' modified' and got pooped for speeding...luckly it was in his home town and the rookie cop was a high school bud of his...it cost m
    him big time the next time he bumped into his cop buddie at the American Legion hall..mucho free beer fo rthe new police officer
    we stoped doing this shortly there after
  7. Aug 17, 2009 #6


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    What about some current through a coping saw blade? There are plenty of industrial applications that use a heated wire via current.
  8. Aug 18, 2009 #7
    A plastic punch seems to be the best idea. I remember seeing something like this once for destroying ID cards, can't recall where though.
  9. Sep 7, 2009 #8
    I don't think the hot wire method will work. Much depends on thickness and type of plastic but generally plastic runs and distorts when melted and a very wavy edge may result.

    I would suggest a jig saw. Some buffing may be required to clean up the edges.

    Good luck!
  10. Sep 8, 2009 #9
    How about something like a die cutting machine? http://www.sizzix.co.uk/category/Big+Shot+Machine [Broken]

    The do premade dies that may suit your needs. If you're doing sufficient numbers, to justify it, they do another machine that can have custom dies made.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  11. Sep 8, 2009 #10
    A hot wire can work well for styrofoam but plastic sheet is more dense and will cut pretty slow.

    A straightedge and a sharp cutting blade will work quicker and cleaner, but you have to do it right the first time: make sure the blade is sharp and the straightedge won't slip. (A little weatherstripping on the back of the straightedge and two people might be a good idea.) With the straightedge in place, run the blade down the plastic from one end of the sheet to the other. You want to score the plastic deeply but not cut right through it. Once you've done this, flex it back and forth a few times along the cut. The plastic should break off and leave you with a clean straight cut with no residue that a hot wire or a saw would leave. A few strokes with fine flat file can clean up the edge and you can round the corners with sandpaper and a sanding block (sand lengthwise for quickest results and use a coarse enough grade to cut faster, then smooth it off with a finer grade.)
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