Laminate Fabricating FAQ's

Phenolic | Melamine | Glass Epoxy | Fabrication Data

We wanted to answer all your needs, so we developed the know-how, installed the equipment to provide you the very best; custom maching, grinding, shearing, sanding, and sawing.
We have provided a detailed list of our Fabricating Data for your convenience. Please select from the list below.


Paper And Fabric Grades
All Atlas Fibre Material machine without difficulty.  As a rule, they are machined more readily than metals on standard machine tools such as those used for wood or metal fabrication.
For most machining operations, ordinary high-speed steel tools are satisfactory.  However, where production quantity, production speed or finish are important factors, tungsten-carbide or diamond tipped tools often prove more economical.  Cutting tools must be kept extremely sharp to achieve accuracy and fine finish.
Our materials may be machined dry or with the aid of water soluble coolants. Machine operators should be cautioned to keep the temperature of the work below 150°C since temperatures above 150°C may distort the material.

Glass Base Grades
In many cases, the same machining operations employed in the fabrication of metals and hardwood may also be adapted to glass base grades.  However, certain slight changes in tools and the use of proper speeds are necessary. These materials may be machined dry with adequate exhaust or with the aid of water soluble coolants.

Diamond or tungsten-carbide tools will give more satisfactory work with longer, more economical life than high-speed tools.


Paper And Fabric Grades

Circular saws may be used for straight or angular sawing.  When smooth edges or close tolerances are important, a hollow-ground circular saw should be used. Best results are obtained when the saw blade projects a minimum distance above the saw table.
A minimum of 12” saws should be used for material up to 1” thick and 16” diameter saws should be used for thickness up to 2 1/2”.  It is important that all teeth be square, of the same height, and free from burrs.  The cutting edge should run either directly toward or just back of the center hole.  In manual circular sawing and band sawing, the work should be fed as rapidly as possible without forcing. For automated sawing, speeds in the range of 8' to 12' per minute are suggested. 

Glass Base Grades
Steel blades with a plated diamond nickel matrix are recommended for all glass grades.

For manual sawing, the material should be fed into the saw as fast as possible without forcing the saw.  Idling creates friction and heat, which cause dulling and burning.

For automated sawing, speeds in the range of 5' to 8' per minute are suggested. Automated sawing may be done dry with the aid adequate exhaust or a water soluble coolant.


Paper And Fabric Grades

The standard band saw is satisfactory where close tolerances or smooth edges are not important.  It is most effective in sawing blanks from plate stock.
Saw blades should have between 4 and 7 teeth per inch with some set, the number of teeth depending on the thickness of the material being sawed.  For heavy material, 3” thick and over, a blade with three teeth per inch is recommended.  Operating speeds should be approximately 3000 feet per minute and blades should be tempered to permit frequent sharpening.
Width of the blade will vary depending on the radius to be cut.  For circular cuts the widths should be narrow, but for straight cuts the blade may be up to 1” in width.

Glass Base Grades
For best results carbide tipped blades should be used.  Work should be fed lightly and the blade should be kept sharp.  sawing can be done dry with a good exhaust system.


Paper And Fabric Grades
Standard shears suitable for sheet metal are recommended for shearing Atlas Fibre materials.  The knife blade should be kept sharp and the material held rigid with a hold-down bar.  Most paper laminates up to 1/16” thickness and canvas laminates up to 1/8” thickness may be sheared at room temperature (70°F min.).

Glass Base Grades
Thickness up to 1/8” can be sheared at room temperature, however the sheared edge will not be as clean or burr free as a sawed edge.


Paper And Fabric Grades
Ordinary high-speed tool steel can be used in finishing operations for all Atlas Fibre grades.  However, carbide-tipped tools will prove more economical and will hold sizes more accurately from piece to piece.  About .010” stock should be left for finishing.  Our Laminates can be turned at 400 surface feet per minute with high-speed tools, and about twice that fast with carbides.  Tools should be kept sharp, ground, with an included angle of 80° to 100°, and with 10° to 16° side clearance.  Cutting can be done dry with proper exhaust or with the aid of a water soluble coolant.

Glass Based Grades
Conventional machining such as turning, boring, and facing can be done on automatic screw machines, CNC Lathes, production lathes or hand turret lathes.
Tungsten-Carbide or diamond tipped tools and cutters should be used with surface speeds below those used for paper or cloth base laminates.  Tools should be ground with a zero rake and machining can be done dry with an adequate exhaust system or with the aid of a water soluble coolant.


Paper And Fabric Grades
Standard tools may be used at speeds and feeds similar to those for bronze and soft steel.  It may prove more economical in spite of higher material cost to use carbide or diamond tipped tools. For most milling operations, the cutting angle of the mill will give better results if ground with a slight rake.

Glass Based Grades

Glass base laminates can be milled on any conventional metal-working milling machine.  Carbide or diamond tipped tools should be used.  Climb or down milling should be practiced, as up milling will tend to delaminate the material.


Paper And Fabric Grades
A standard high-speed drill with lips backed off to provide plenty of clearance is satisfactory for all Atlas Fibre grades.  However, for long production runs and deep holes, carbide-tipped drills give the best performance.
Drills should be retracted from the work frequently to prevent binding and excessive heating.  The feed should be light and uniform and the speed of the drill should be considerably in excess of that used for soft steel.  With tungsten-carbide tips, speeds may be as high as 16,000 rpm.  Where possible, the  material being drilled should be backed up with scrap laminate or other soft material to prevent chipping out.
In drilling parallel to laminations, extra care must be taken to prevent splitting.  The material should be clamped in a vise or between plates and the drill should be retracted frequently to remove chips.
Holes 3/4” and over may be drilled in the conventional manner using radial drill presses or the counterbore method in which a pilot hole is drilled first.
Drill size - Because of the nature of industrial laminates, the diameters of drilled holes are usually .002” under the drill size. Therefore, the drill selected should be at least .002” larger than the specified diameter of the hole.  If the drill is being used dull, the hole size may be an additional .002” undersize, or a total of .004” less than the diameter of the drill.
The recommendations for drilling also apply to tapping.  Taps used for metal are also suitable for most laminates.  Tapping heads or tapping machines may be used for production work. Collapsible taps are available in sizes over 1 ¼”.

Tap Size
In tapping laminate materials, high-speed or carbide taps .002” oversize should be used. The tap drill size should also be changed to .002” oversize to counteract the tendency of the drill to cut undersize.  If the thread is to be used frequently, metal inserts should be used.


Paper And Fabric Grades
For threaded holes over 1/2”, it is often more desirable to single point turn the thread.
For all other threads, standard methods are used with satisfactory results. The speed and feeds are similar to those used in threading soft steel.

Glass Base Grades
External and internal threads can be cut with a carbide-tipped tool dry.  Fine cuts should be taken to give best results.  A water soluble coolant can be used if finer finishes are required.

Stamping and Engraving 

Paper, Fabric And Glass Base Grades
Laminate surfaces to be stamped should be smooth.  Sanding may be necessary, in some cases, to obtain satisfactory results.  Compression presses employing heated dies give best results.
Engraving can be done with any standard engraving machine.  Tools should be sharp to produce clean-cut edges.

Material Specifications Data Sheet


12 Conflict Minerals

These suggestions reflect our experience and the experience of our customers.  This is not a users manual or fabrication guide.  Further, results differ based on many factors, including quality, composition and suitability of raw materials, tools and fabrication processes, and the skill of fabricators.  Atlas Fibre Company does not guarantee or warrantee fabrication results on any of our materials.