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Drilling Polycarbonate

If you’re planning to use polycarbonate to construct a patio roof or awning, for example, then you are going to have to drill it. Luckily, polycarbonate is easy to machine as long as you have the correct tools. Before you begin, here are a few important tips on how to drill polycarbonate sheet that will help to avoid any pitfalls.

You’ll need

  • An iron or preferably, an HSS drill bit in increasing thickness (make sure it’s sharp)
  • Drill with variable speed
  • Glue clamps or locking pliers
  • Masking Tape
  • Workbench or wooden slats for support
  • Underlay for the drill to run into

Before you begin drilling

A key point to remember when you’re going to drill polycarbonate is to make sure that the sheet is well supported. Place it on a flat surface such as a wood board into which the drill can run. Clamp the polycarbonate to the board using locking pliers or glue clamps so that there is no risk of it moving while you’re drilling. If you’re drilling holes along the edge of the sheet, the edge of the drill holes should be at a distance of at least twice the thickness of the polycarbonate away from the edge of the sheet. This will prevent the polycarbonate from breaking.

For example:
If you’re drilling holes in a 4 mm thick polycarbonate sheet, the distance between the sheet edge and the edge of the borehole must be at least 8 mm.

Mark the drill holes

Once the sheet is firmly clamped to the work surface, mark out the drill holes. Don’t mark them directly on to the surface of the polycarbonate but apply some masking tape and mark the position on this. This will ensure that the drill doesn’t slip and leave an unsightly scratch.

Top tip:
To protect the polycarbonate, stick masking tape to the underside as well, especially when machining sheets of thickness less than 5mm.

Drilling holes in polycarbonate sheet

You can use an ordinary iron drill or HSS drill bit to drill holes in polycarbonate. Position the drill perpendicular to the polycarbonate and run the drill at medium speed immediately. Don’t use too much pressure but let the drill do the work. It’s important to use a drill that is not brand new but is still sharp. If you use a new drill bit, the drill bit can ‘bite’ into the sheet because of the cutting angle.

Top tip:
If you don’t have a slightly used drill bit, then take a new one and break it in by drilling some holes into a piece of wood. This will wear down the sharp edges slightly and it will be ideal for using to drill polycarbonate.

Ordering polycarbonate online

If you’re planning a project using polycarbonate, sometimes known as Lexan, you’ll find a wide range of polycarbonate sheets in different types and thicknesses in our webshop, and don’t forget, we’ll cut the sheets to size for free.

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