engineering | plastics | Deburrring PEEK plastic parts

Dry Ice Deburring for High-Value Engineering Plastics


Engineering plastics are high-value, high-performance materials that have superior physical, mechanical, chemical and/or thermal properties. They cost more than commodity plastics, and parts are typically produced in lower volumes. Engineering-grade plastics are used in industrial and processing applications, and by the aerospace, defense, and medical industries. Examples of these high-value, high-performance polymers include PEEK, Delrin, Teflon, Torlon, and polyetherimides (PEIs) such as Ultem and Vespel.

Like commodity plastics, engineering plastics are available in form factors such as rods, tubes, and billets. These machinable plastics support a variety of manufacturing processes, including milling, drilling, turning, and CNC machining. During plastic fabrication, workpiece materials may be stretched beyond the point to where they can return to their original dimensions. If a plastic contains or develops a crack, this stretching action can cause the crack to grow and fracture, creating unwanted protrusions called burrs.

Why Manual Trimming Isn’t the Answer

Manual trimming can result in costly material waste, especially with engineering-grade plastics. That’s because these expensive materials are often used in applications, such as medical devices or aerospace parts, that have complex features and tight tolerances. For example, PEEK spinal cages have numerous holes, slots, and other geometric features that can be difficult to deburr with hand tools. Aerospace parts also have hard-to-reach features where knives or brushes risk removing too much or too little material.

Industrial and processing applications also need an alternative to hand trimming. For example, small Delrin® gears need burr-free teeth for reliable meshing. They also need clean holes for attachments to shafts. However, knives can gouge surfaces and change part geometry. Brushes can cause part discoloration and require different tools for outer diameter (OD) and inner diameter (ID) deburring. With engineering plastics, out-of-spec parts can be costly – even at low volumes.

Why Dry Ice Deburring Is the Solution

Dry ice deburring is an alternative to manual trimming that can reach small holes or cavities, remove thick burrs, and reach challenging part locations. With its directed blast of sand-sized particles, this proven process can reach deep, narrow holes and other part features that require burr removal at precise angles. This burr removal technique can also eliminate large burrs that would be difficult, time-consuming, or risky to remove with hand tools. Still, there are many more advantages.

Dry ice deburring is an effectively media-less process because dry ice sublimates upon impact with a part’s surface. Unlike abrasive flow deburring or micro-abrasive processing, media won’t become lodged in part features such as the holes in a PEEK surgical caddy or between the teeth of small Delrin gears. Since dry ice deburring isn’t a machine-based process, it can accommodate larger parts that wouldn’t fit inside a typical deburring machine. It’s also cost-effective and fast in terms of processing, at low part volumes.

Choose Nitrofreeze® Dry Ice Deburring for Engineering Plastics

Do you need dry ice deburring services for machined parts made of engineering plastics? Nitrofreeze® Cryogenic Services can review your technical drawings, photos, or samples and also share some examples of previous projects. Along with machined PEEK and Delrin, we’ve successfully deburred many other high-value, high-performance polymers, including medical and aerospace parts with complex features and tight tolerances. To learn more, contact us at the phone number and email listed below.

(508) 459-7447 x 105