How is Plastic Used in Swiss Machining?

The Versatility of Plastic in CNC Machining

Small Details Blue Plastic Parts.

Swiss machining, also known as Swiss turning or Swiss-style CNC machining, is a highly precise and versatile technique used in the manufacturing industry. While often associated with metal components, Swiss machines can produce intricate parts from various plastic materials.

Today, we will examine the reasons why a company may select plastic for a component. We will also discuss several common plastic materials used in Swiss machining and the range of parts that can be created with this cutting-edge manufacturing process.

The Advantages of Producing Plastic Parts 

Lightweight Construction 

One of the primary reasons for utilizing plastic in Swiss machining is its lightweight nature. Reducing overall weight is crucial for improved fuel efficiency, increased mobility, and ease of handling in the aerospace, automotive, and consumer electronics industries. Plastic materials provide excellent strength-to-weight ratios, making them ideal for structural and non-structural components. Using Swiss machining techniques, complex and lightweight plastic parts can be efficiently manufactured to meet specific design requirements.

Plastic is Cost-Effective 

Plastic materials often offer cost advantages compared to metals in the manufacturing process. These plastic components typically require fewer machining operations, reducing labor costs and shorter production cycles. Moreover, plastic materials can be molded or extruded into near-net shapes, minimizing the wastage of raw materials. Swiss machining further optimizes the cost-effectiveness of plastic part production by enabling high-precision machining with minimal material removal.

Product Design Flexibility 

Another significant advantage of producing parts in plastic using Swiss machines is the design flexibility it allows. Plastic materials can be easily molded or shaped into intricate geometries, which is especially beneficial for creating complex features like undercuts, thin walls, and internal cavities. With Swiss machining’s high precision and ability to handle small-scale components, manufacturers can achieve intricate plastic part designs that would be challenging to replicate using other manufacturing methods.

Chemical Resistance and Durability 

Specific applications require parts with excellent chemical resistance and durability. Plastic materials like nylon, Delrin, and polycarbonate offer exceptional resistance to chemicals, moisture, and harsh environments. This makes them suitable for components used in industries such as chemical processing, transportation, and outdoor equipment. Swiss machining ensures these plastic parts exhibit high dimensional accuracy, contributing to their long-lasting performance.

Plastic Materials Used in Precision Machining 

Acrylic (PMMA)

Acrylic is a versatile thermoplastic that offers excellent transparency and weather resistance. Swiss machining commonly uses it to create components such as instrument housing, lenses, and display panels.


With its exceptional strength, toughness, and low friction properties, nylon is a popular choice for Swiss machining. It is used to produce gears, bearings, bushings, and other wear-resistant parts.

Delrin (POM)

Delrin, known as polyoxymethylene, is a high-performance engineering plastic with excellent dimensional stability and low friction. It finds application in Swiss machining for manufacturing parts like gears, bearings, and connectors.

Polycarbonate (PC)

Polycarbonate is a durable and impact-resistant material used in a wide range of applications. Swiss machining is employed to create parts such as electrical enclosures, automotive components, and protective covers.

Polyethylene (PE)

Polyethylene, including high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), is valued for its exceptional chemical resistance and low friction properties. It is utilized in Swiss machining for manufacturing conveyor parts, valves, and liners.

Common Machined Parts That Are Plastic

Swiss machining techniques lend themselves well to producing intricate and small-scale components. When it comes to plastic materials, these techniques offer unique advantages, such as high precision and repeatability, enabling the creation of complex geometries and tight tolerances.

 Plastic Part Examples:

  • Inserts and bushings: Swiss machines can precisely manufacture plastic inserts and bushings used in various industries, such as automotive and electronics.
  • Connectors and fittings: Plastic connectors and fittings can be efficiently produced using Swiss machining technology, including those used in plumbing and electrical applications.
  • Medical device components: With its ability to create intricate shapes and precise dimensions, Swiss machining is well-suited for manufacturing medical device components like catheters, valves, and surgical instruments.
  •  Automotive parts: Plastic components used in the automotive industry, such as sensors, cable connectors, and interior trim pieces, can be accurately and efficiently produced using Swiss machining techniques.

Do You Need A Plastic Component? 

Using plastic in Swiss machining provides distinct advantages in lightweight construction, cost-effectiveness, design flexibility, and chemical resistance. These benefits make plastic a preferred choice for various industries, enabling the efficient production of intricate and light components to meet specific application requirements. With access to different plastic materials, including acrylic, nylon, Delrin, polycarbonate, and polyethylene, manufacturers can create a variety of components, from medical devices to automotive parts.

Colburn Manufacturing of Minnesota is ready to take on the plastic Swiss machined part your company requires. Our expertise in plastic materials and Swiss machining techniques allows us to create intricate, lightweight components that meet your unique application requirements. Contact us today to learn more about our capabilities and how we can help you with your next project.