There are many different kinds of plastic cutters, but the two most common varieties are sheet cutters and tube cutters. Sheet cutters are razor-like knives with plastic or rubber grips that are used for precision trimming of plastic sheets. Plastic tube cutters, in contrast, are a form of pipe cutter used in plumbing and pipefitting.
Plastic tube cutters are preferred to other tools such as hacksaws because they are fast and convenient and produce a clean cut. The simplicity of plastic cutters works in their favor, and they are used in industrial, commercial and consumer products contexts for a variety of tasks. That said, hand-held plastic cutters are suitable only for small scale plastic cutting tasks, and compared to automated plastic cutting machinery, hand held cutting tools are limited in terms of their precision and potential for productivity.
Plastic fabricators may make use of such high-output cutting tools as lasers and precision saws, the operation of which often can be controlled by computers. Such tools can be necessary in order for an industrial plastic fabrication operation to be productive.
Plastic products can be made of either thermoplastics or thermosets. Thermoplastics are plastic products that are characterized by their capacity to be reshaped and reformed after having already undergone such shaping and forming processes at some point in their lifespans. Thermosets, on the other hand, cannot be reshaped after having already undergone a shaping and forming process. This is because of the plastic’s chemical composition. In other words, most thermoplastics can be easily recycled; thermosets, generally speaking, cannot be recycled.
If exposed to sufficient heat, most thermosets will crack or become charred. Both thermoplastics and thermosets can, however, be subject to mechanical shaping and forming processes like cutting. Plastic cutting is just one of many plastic shaping processes; other examples are plastic machining, plastic stamping and even plastic welding.