Design Workshop > Facts about Acrylic
Facts about Acrylic
Code: ddp000
Facts about Acrylic

Interesting facts about acrylic.

Acrylic first appeared under the trademark Plexiglass

It is a synthetic polymer of polymethyl methacrylate, or PPMA for short.

Acrylic enabled items to be mass produced following World War Two with the manufacturing factories set up for the war efforts that otherwise would have perhaps closed down post war.

Acrylic is known by many names such as Plexiglass,Lucite™, Optixand acrylic glass. We generally hear more people refer to the material as acrylic or Perspex.

As a material comparison an Acrylic panel is less than 50% of the weight of the equivalent glass panel.

The strength of acrylic can be incredible. There are various types of Acrylic which have between 6 to 17 times greater impact resistance than glass. This acrylic strength depends on the specific acrylic material used. 

Another advantage of Acrylic over Glass is when it is receives hits beyond its resistance the acrylic material breaks into large pieces. When acrylic breaks it also disperses more slowly than some products as its lighter in weight.

Transparent Acrylic is as transparent as the finest optical glass

Its total white light transmittance is 92%, the highest transmittance physically possible of any material.
Clear Acrylic and Coloured Acrylic can be sawn, drilled, and machined like wood or soft metals. One major benefit of Acrylic over some materials is Acrylic can be formed. This means Acrylic can be shaped when subjected to heat.

The temperature for forming acrylic is 150 °C for Extruded Acrylic and approximately 160 °C for Cast Acrylic. Compare this to the heat which is used to Form Glass which is around 1000°C and you can see the big advantage when it comes to manufacture.

Manufacturing companies generally buy the base acrylic sheet material in either whats know as a half sheet of Acrylic, or Full sheet of Acrylic. These are roughly 8x4ft , or 3x2m respectively. The thicknesses available are many with the most common used within the Point of Sale Industry being 2,3,4 or 5mm,although many other thicknesses are available.

Many items made in acrylic are moulded using a method known as injection moulding.The acrylic is supplied in a granular form which allows it to be fed into an injection moulding machine which heats the material and forces it into the mould shape previously tooled up.

Below are some typical items, the material used and manufacturing process used to make them.

  • Riot Sheets  - clear polycarbonate - line or oven formed
  • Boat screens - Acrylic - line or oven formed
  • Leaflet Holders - Acrylic - line formed (although can be injection moulded)
  • Food Screens - Acrylic - line fomed
  • Graphics panels in shops - PVC - line formed
  • Newspaper Displays - Acrylic - line formed
  • Fish Tanks - Acrylic
  • Machine Guards - clear PETG (although PETG has a slight colour tinge) - line formed
  • Signs such as that used by MacDonald's - Acrylic
  • Rear lights on cars - Acrylic - injection moulded
  • Mobile Phones - Acrylic - injection moulded



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