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Last updated date: 17th May 2024
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What is Acrylic?

A transparent homopolymer that is similar to polycarbonate for use as a high impact-resistant alternative to glass is known as acrylic. Produced in 1928, the material was introduced to the market five years later. It is well-known as plexiglass or Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA) in scientific terms. This material is well-thought-out to be one of the clearest plastics available in the market. In general, the material has wide applications ranging from medical devices, paint, furniture to security barrier uses. This versatile plastic material can be found in different forms such as tubes or rods and different styles like mirrored, frosted, and more. Go through below to know what makes plexiglass a cost-effective material for different projects.

Features of Polymethyl Methacrylate

Plexiglass is categorized as a thermoplastic, which becomes liquid at a certain melting point. Thermoplastics can be cooled, heated to their melting point, and reheated again without substantial degradation. Thermoplastics like plexiglass instead of burning, liquefy. It permits them to get injection-moulded simply and then recycled subsequently. Acrylic sheets are highly resistant to disparities in temperature and have certain characteristics that make them ideal for medical, life sciences and other uses. 

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The above picture shows that transparent acrylics are available in a wide variety of colours. 

Some of the Physical Properties Possessed by Plexiglass Sheets Involve:

  • Outstanding Chemical Resistance: PMMA is highly resistant to numerous chemicals, which make it ideal to use in the production of fluidic manifolds, medical manifolds, and devices.

  • Lightweight: Acrylic glass sheet is half the weight of the ordinary glass and is superlative for machining into precision components.

  • Temperature Resistant: Plexiglass material has excellent resistance to temperature variations and thus, it can be treated heated and diffusion bonded. It makes the material suitable for use in microfluidic devices, medical manifolds, and in the manufacture of food and beverage analysis. 

  • High Impact Resistance: The white acrylic sheet is effortlessly moldable and has high impact resistance. These sheets have good resistance to component breakage through impact or shock.

  • High Optical Clarity: Acrylic mirror sheet is tremendously transparent and offers brilliant light transmission properties. When either vapour polished or MOP, the material offers optimal clarity and can transmit about 92% white light. 

Apart from it, plexiglass is well-known to be durable and possess admirable dimensional stability, and excellent weatherability and UV resistance. The property of PMMA to form a chain-like structure makes it suitable for both personal as well as industrial use. 

Applications of Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA)

Acrylic glass is a lighter alternative and 10 times more impact resistant compared to ordinary glass. The material serves as a valuable plastic for the applications, which require transparency and don’t concern solvent resistance. Following are some of the uses of PMMA across commercial and non-commercial areas: 

  • Home Improvement: Plastic suppliers can have plexiglass cut to size Perspex in any design or colour required. You might wonder what is perspex? Perspex is a solid translucent plastic that is sometimes used in place of glass. From splashbacks to cabinets, this plastic can serve as a durable option without compromising the quality. 

  • Water Resistant Paint: Plastic does not absorb the water, and thus using PMMA as the paint is a wonderful idea. Car paint is the most common type of acrylic paint.

  • Commercial Applications: Due to the robustness of acrylic, it serves as a tremendous choice for structural glazing. The material is useful to create weather and storm-resistant windows, durable skylights, and bulletproof rooms. Apart from it, clean rooms that require cast PMMA sheets can take advantage of structural glazing.

  • Military Use: Acrylic tube is often used by the military whether diving deep into the ocean or breaking the sound barrier. It is because of its properties such as strength under high pressure, adaptability, and transparency. 

  • Transparent Non-Glass Applications: One can choose among different types of coloured sheet to get a complete spectrum of transparent, opaque, and translucent colours. There is no harm to the durability of transparent mirror sheets as these are formulated in such a way so that they can filter ultraviolet energy. 

  • Aquariums: The tough-glass-like acrylic mirror is used as a window to see into shark tanks at aquariums. Though there are several options available for this application, however, PMMA has proven to be the superior one. With adequate care and maintenance, the material will result in worth the cost offering better quality and the best alternative to glass. 

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The above picture shows that plexiglass is used in aquariums as mirror glass to see into shark tanks.

Final Thoughts

Acrylic combines the different types of options with an abundant number of benefits. The material can be shaped into various useful products. It involves window panes, aquariums, retail displays, and more. One of the positive sides of a transparent sheet is that the user can recycle them without any damage.

FAQs on Acrylic

1. What Makes Plexiglass Useful for Prototype Development on Machines?

Ans: Plexiglass is available in sheet stock in a wide variety of colours. Sometimes, the fluorescent colours of the material are referred to as edge-lit. The colour of the sheet pops along the edges, and it looks like it is illuminated. It is trouble-free to heat plexiglass sheets and mould them in the desired shape. By heating the bend point of the sheet, it is an effortless task to make simple bends with a wire heater. Parts made from different pieces of the material can be joined together using solvents that result in a barely visible joint. Thus, custom bending, cutting, and other fabrication services allow metal and plastic fabrication companies to benefit from this material.

2. Is There Any Disadvantage of Using PMMA Plastics?

Ans: Plexiglass needs more care while handling to reduce the chances of scratching. If the material gets scratched accidentally, then one can restore it to the original form by polishing it. Using sandpaper can get more scratches, which means one has to take extra care while cleaning acrylics. The material is not resistant to matting and can be stained by oil or grease effortlessly. It is a trouble-free task to bend plexiglass, but it can lead to distortion. Poor solvent resistance is one of the drawbacks of using acrylic sheets. Irrespective of all these minor disadvantages, acrylics are worth the cost due to high impact resistance and chemical resistance compared to glass.