To begin our discussion, we need to first find the answers to some of the basic questions related to the terms acrylic and plexiglass, and how most of the time people tend to use them as a combination or interchangeably.
So let’s begin.
What is Acrylic?
The term ‘Acrylic’ is itself the most commonly used derivative name of a chemical compound called ‘Polymethyl Methacrylate’.
Acrylic is basically one of the materials from the much extensive plastic family. It is known to be quite versatile due to its multiple applications and availability in various forms.
Out of all its applications, acrylic is known to be used as a transparent plastic sheet which is light-weight and a less-breakable alternative to glass.
Even though it is clear and transparent and thus it seems quite similar to a glass sheet which often makes many people confused in identifying it correctly, it has a few other qualities that make it in many ways superior to traditional glass.
While an acrylic plexiglass sheet can fulfill a wide range of other purposes as well and can be made into any size and shape, it is also available in a wide array of colors with different opacity levels.
What is Plexiglass?
Although the term ‘Plexiglass’ is often used in combination with and sometimes as an alternative to the term ‘acrylic’, technically it is different.
The technicality that makes both these terms different exist because acrylic is actually a product, whereas the term ‘Plexiglass’ specifically refers to one of its well-known brand names under which it is traded.
Why use acrylic plexiglass instead of glass?
Over the last few years, acrylic plexiglass sheets have gained traction between the admirers of traditional glass.
While this shift in their preference can be attributed to many qualities of acrylic plexiglass, a few major ones that are specifically related to using it instead of glass have been mentioned here.
1. Cost benefit
When it comes to cost saving, acrylic plexiglass sheeting is a great cost saver in multiple ways.
Starting from the cost of its production in terms of the raw materials used and energy required in the process, it is more economical to produce acrylic plexiglass than traditional glass.
The second cost saving benefit arrives in terms of its transportation costs. Due to its lightweight, more of it can be transported easily and does not always require any kind of machinery to handle it. And because acrylic is more strike resistant than glass, there are less chances of it getting damaged during transportation.
2. Easy to use
When it comes to ease of use, acrylic plexiglass is much more user friendly than traditional glass.
This is because cutting large sheets of acrylic plexiglass is much easier than cutting a sheet of glass. Due to its light weight it is super easy to install anywhere. And unlike glass, it can be easily cut into any custom shape and design form for any purpose without any hassle.
Acrylic plexiglass can also be bent easily which means a single sheet can be used to make for example liquid containers like fish aquariums or big water tanks with less joints.
3. Material strength
Acrylic plexiglass sheets are super strong and durable. Windows, doors or any other openings in a building where safety from weather and natural calamities is must but where abundance of natural light is also important, the application of acrylic plexiglass is a perfect solution.
This is because the impact resistance level of an acrylic plexiglass sheet is several times more than that of traditional glass.
While safety from external environmental threats in a naturally lit room can be best served with an acrylic plexiglass, acrylic sheets also have a much more clarity level in terms of having less glare and reflections.
Traditional glass naturally reflects more light and the thicker it is; the less transparent it becomes which is often evident from its discoloring.
Other features of acrylic plexiglass
Other than the above four more prominent reasons to use acrylic plexiglass instead of traditional glass, acrylic plexiglass also offers a bunch of other features that gives it an additional edge over glass sheets. These are:-
- Acrylic plexiglass can be manufactured into lengths varying between 72 inch to 192 inch; and widths between 48 inches to 108 inches.
- Acrylic plexiglass can be cleanly joined with glue and any other adhesive.
- Acrylic plexiglass is pre-manufactured in a vast variety of vivid colors with varying opacity levels.
- Acrylic plexiglass sheets can be polished for a more enhanced smooth surface.
- Acrylic plexiglass sheets can be bent to form any shape simply by bringing it in contact with heat.
- Acrylic plexiglass sheets can be cut easily on a project site using the same tools as used for cutting glass and does not require to be transported to any special facility for this purpose.
- Although acrylic is not a recyclable material, it can still be reused. For example, restaurants use acrylic crockery because it is scratch resistant, unbreakable and can be washed easily.
- Acrylic plexiglass sheets can bear the impact resistance as much as 17 times to that of the glass.
- Acrylic plexiglass sheet even when used outdoors where it remains continuously exposed to direct sunlight, it still does not turn yellow nor does it lose its color and fade off.
Uses of acrylic plexiglass
Acrylic plexiglass serves in a number of day to day uses which includes but is in no way limited to the following list of things such as
- sound barrier,
- boxes and containers,
- patio glass,
- optical lenses,
- display cases and stand,
- kitchen crockery,
- kitchen and table tops and
- food grade containers, etc.
Types of Acrylic Plexiglass sheet
Acrylic plexiglass is far and wide known around the world for its plastic luster, excellent scratch and pressure impact resistance. Its load bearing capacity surpasses that of polycarbonate which is known to be one of the toughest and strongest materials.
But perhaps what is more worthy to mention here about this extraordinary material called acrylic plexiglass, is that it comes in a vast number of design models all intended to serve the craftsmen in numerous ways and to fulfill their totally customized requirements.
To suit multiple applications to which acrylic plexiglass sheets can be deployed, the general types in which acrylic plexiglass sheets differ from each other is due to its color, thickness, size and its ability to resist any impact from several external forces.
If you have a unique idea and you want to experiment it with the best available resources, perhaps acrylic plexiglass could serve as an ideal choice to turn your inspiration into a reality.
1 # White acrylic plexiglass sheet
If your design includes something unconventional and out-of-the-box, using white acrylic plexiglass sheet is all you need. Thanks to the much advanced form of manufacturing acrylic material, acrylic plexiglass sheets can transition into different colors from their original color when exposed to special lighting for example LED.
2 # Mirror or reflective acrylic plexiglass sheet
Acrylic plexiglass sheets can serve dual purpose of bearing super strength and high durability while also serving as a reflective surface simultaneously. Their capability of resisting high forms of environmental stress makes them perfect for any outdoor purpose.
3 # Light diffusing acrylic plexiglass sheet
You might have seen many modern design sign boards made with acrylic sheets. This is because aside from being super easy to mold and carve into any shape, acrylic sheets also have the quality of not allowing light to unnecessarily scatter on its surface. This way sign boards remain clear to read and understand when glowing different color lights in the dark.
4 # Clear acrylic plexiglass sheet
Clear acrylic plexiglass sheets are the most common and most widely used type of acrylic. This is because a clear acrylic plexiglass sheet is not only clear but is also available in a wide range of custom dimensions.
It can be as thin as 0.04 times of an inch and as thick as 4 inches. Its width ranges between three feet to ten feet and its height ranges between four to almost thirteen feet.
Given the above figures, whatever your purpose is you are sure to find a clear acrylic plexiglass sheet in the most suitable dimension.
5 # Colored acrylic plexiglass sheet
Those looking to add a little something more colorful will appreciate the vast number of options in which colored acrylic sheets can be ordered. With many different shades to choose from, these varieties of acrylic are just as striking as they are strong and can be exactly what you need to complete projects that require both artistic and longevity. If you’re looking for something that really shines, color acrylic plexiglass is sure to meet your taste.
Using a pre-manufactured colored acrylic plexiglass sheet is a cheaper and better option when compared with using colored glass or paint to bring life and attractiveness to your project.
For more and better color options, you might want to check catalogues from different manufacturers of acrylic sheets.
6 # Abrasion resistant acrylic plexiglass sheet
For use at public spaces, acrylic plexiglass sheets can be strengthened to resist any kind of wearing off or abrasion due to scratching or scuffing. This abrasion resistant feature of acrylic plexiglass sheets also makes it good to resist any kind of damage from a chemical spill as well.
So whether you walk or run with heavy boots or spill any hot or cold liquid, your acrylic plexiglass sheet floor won’t let you down.
7 # Solar tinted acrylic plexiglass sheet
In addition to being strong and durable, acrylic plexiglass sheeting can also be used against protection from sunlight. As against using traditional glass sheet to sunlight into a space, solar tinted acrylic plexiglass sheet can be an excellent alternative way for maximum protection against any form of solar glare, ultra violet rays, color fading such as of fabric and to maintain temperature by keeping a place cool in hot season and warm in cold weather, thus also reducing your energy bill.
8 # Textured acrylic plexiglass sheet
While bringing an exceptional amount of durability and aesthetics to its surroundings, textured acrylic plexiglass sheet can be used as false wall partitions, roofing, flooring, doors and windows in any architectural space or to serve in interior designing projects where privacy, strength and natural light transmission are of high essence.
Guide to buying, transporting and maintaining acrylic plexiglass sheets for use
While buying, transporting and maintaining acrylic plexiglass sheets for use in your project, there are a number of things that every buyer should be aware of. We have compiled a few of the important ones here.
- Start with examining the quality of the acrylic sheet. Check to see whether it is fading away at some point or not; or it is losing its glossiness; or the surface of it seems to be irregular. If any of these issues exist, it is definitely not worth buying.
- For colored and thick acrylic plexiglass sheets, check whether the surface color is bright or not, is it free from any tiny holes or pores and does it seem to have a smooth surface feeling or not when you touch it.
- The acrylic plexiglass supplier hasn’t stored any form of organic solvents with or near to the acrylic plexiglass sheets at the place of inspection or warehouse.
- The protective paper or protective film which is wrapped or coated on the acrylic sheet, is not damaged and is free from scratches to transport if properly.
- The place where acrylic plexiglass is to be used has temperature levels below 85⁰
- When installing acrylic plexiglass sheets, the gap between any two sheets is adequate to allow for thermal and cold expansion due to change in temperature.
- Liquid and any other utensil used for cleaning the acrylic sheet surface does not possess any harm or damage to it.
Although acrylic plexiglass and acrylic material in general resembles glass and offers much more benefit when compared to it, it still has certain limitations and drawbacks.
From not being able to resist direct flame and high temperature to being a source of adding many toxic fumes into the atmosphere during its production, acrylic plexiglass is also a non-biodegradable material.