What is Acrylic|Acrylic Advantages & Disadvantages

Whats is acrylic?

Acrylic is a transparent plastic material with outstanding strength, stiffness, and optical clarity. Acrylic sheet is easy to fabricate, bonds well with adhesives and solvents, and is easy to thermoform. It has superior weathering properties compared to many other transparent plastics.

Acrylic sheet exhibits glass-like qualities—clarity, brilliance, and transparency—but at half the weight and many times the impact resistance of glass. From durable signs and skylights to eye-catching retail store fixtures, displays and shelves, acrylic plastics provide outstanding versatility, durability, and aesthetic qualities.

What is acrylic made of?

The material commonly known as acrylic is in fact called polymethyl methacrylate, abbreviated to PMMA. Plexiglass is a trading name that has become synonymous with this material. Compare it with Luxaflex as a general name for horizontal blinds. PMMA is also known under the brand names Oroglas®, Perspex®, and Altuglas®, but especially as acrylic. Whatever you call it, all these names do give a hint to the most important application of PMMA, namely as a replacement for glass. But how is acrylic actually made?

What is acrylic used for?

Acrylic is a transparent plastic that has gained widespread use because its ability replace glass. In everyday products, it is particular used for signs, sales displays, roof windows, lenses, and screens. But also for demanding constructions such as windows in submarines and fiber optics in flat-screen TV’s.

There are no plastics with greater light transmission, which even allow more light to pass through than glass. Since it also has numerous advantages over glass it is in many cases only the glass robustness against scratches, which saves it from being replaced with acrylic. Eg. the windscreen in a car is a very expensive product that, if replaced with acrylic, can be manufactured at a fraction of the price. It would just soon be scratched by the wipers. In the section “Acrylic versus glass” comparable properties of acrylic and glass are listed.

Acrylic is approved for use within the food industry and used in shops for food storage. Both in delicacy and vegetable areas. Looking closely, you will discover that all types of businesses using large quantities of acrylic – signs, showcases, shelves, guards, and gates in all colors.

What is acrylic made of?

Acrylic fibers are synthetic fibers made from a polymer (polyacrylonitrile) with an average molecular weight of -100,000, about 1900 monomer units. For a fiber to be called “acrylic” in the US, the polymer must contain at least 85% acrylonitrile monomer. Typical comonomers are vinyl acetate or methyl acrylate.

Are acrylic and plastic the same thing?

While acrylic is plastic, not all plastic is acrylic. … Another common name for acrylic is “polyacrylate” which is one of the most common types. This material is made from Methyl Methacrylate (MMA), Poly Methyl Methacrylate, or a combination of both.

Why is acrylic so expensive?

Acrylics are expensive because they are much stronger and more durable than any type of glass or plastic. In the case of aquariums, for example, bigger tanks are usually made with acrylic because they can hold much more water.

Disadvantages of Acrylics:

The first disadvantage of using acrylics is that it scratches more easily than glass. This means that it will need more care when handling it to reduce the rate of scratching. However, if it accidentally gets any scratches, it is easy for you to restore it to its original form. All that you need to do is polish the acrylic to get rid of the scratches. Never ever use sandpaper on acrylics because what you will get is more scratches. You should take extra care if you are cleaning acrylic with rough pads.

As compared to most other synthetics, acrylics are less strong and are not resistant to matting.

The other not-so-good thing about acrylics is that they are easily stained by grease and oil. However, it is easy to clean these with water and mild detergent. With these, you will not leave any scratches on the sheets.

The other disadvantage of using acrylic is distortion. This happens because acrylics bend easily during construction.

The other drawback that you will have to deal with once you have decided to switch to acrylics is the expense. Acrylic especially if you decide to go for custom styles for example when construction aquariums will cost you much more than glass. However, the truth is that acrylic plastic is worth the cost. With proper care and maintenance, it will not let you down regardless of where you are using it. At the end of the day, the end result will be more attractive, have better quality, and top of the art workmanship.

The other minor disadvantages of using acrylic are that their impact resistance is not at par, they have a poor solvent resistance, flexible grades of acrylics are not available, acrylic is subject to cracking through stress, and have a low continuous service temperature.

Is acrylic safe?

Acrylic and SAN are BPA Free Plastics

Goods made from these plastics generally aren’t as durable, so they’re rarely listed as unbreakable. SAN is dishwasher safe, but acrylic will generally be labeled hand wash only.

What are the qualities of acrylic?

Excellent optical clarity.

Excellent weather ability and resistance to sunlight.

Rigid, with good impact strength.

Excellent dimensional stability and low mould shrinkage.

Stretch forming increases bi-axial toughness.

What are the advantages of acrylic?

Due to its incredible durability, acrylic can be used over a broad temperature range and has superior weather resistance compared to glass and other forms of plastic. Under high impact, it will not shatter and if it does break, it fractures into large, dull-edged pieces.

The Physical Properties of Acrylic and Plexiglass Sheets

Acrylic plastic is a transparent thermoplastic homopolymer that is often colloquially referred to as plexiglass. This plastic has unique properties that make it ideal for a variety of purposes, ranging from basic household items to fiber optic cables that power the world. These properties have allowed acrylic to enjoy immense popularity in manufacturing as well as DIY projects:

High impact resistance

High optical clarity

Innate weather ability and UV resistance

Excellent dimensional stability


Excellent chemical resistance

Out of all these properties, the most commonly cited advantage of acrylic is its durability. Despite its lower price point, it is 10 times more impact-resistant than glass. In the unlikely event that acrylic plastic does break, it will fracture into dull-edged pieces instead of sharp, dangerous shards. These properties contribute to acrylic’s popularity as windows for commercial buildings.

What is Acrylic Used For?

Whether you’re looking for strength, longevity, or clarity, acrylic plastic offers several advantages over other materials and is extremely versatile—meaning it can be used in a variety of different applications. Here are a few examples:

Skylights and commercial windows

Retail signage and displays

Aquariums and terrariums

Protective barriers for manufacturing

Bullet resistant glass

Plexiglass windows

Greenhouse panels

If you are looking for transparent plastic that is easily moldable and has high impact resistance, it may be acrylic plastic that you ultimately need to finish your project.

Frequently Asked Questions for Acrylic Sheets

Where does the thickness of acrylic come in?

The thickness of an acrylic sheet will positively influence factors like impact resistance. For cast acrylic sheets, there’s a wide variety of thicknesses ranging from .06 inches to 4 inches thick. Specifically, these thicknesses are .06″, 1⁄8″, 3⁄16″,1⁄4″, 3⁄8″, 1⁄4″, 1⁄2″, 1″, 1.25″, 1.5″, 2″, 2.5″, 3″, and 4″.

How much is a sheet of acrylic?

Pricing is dependent on the size, thickness, and quantity of acrylic purchased. As a result, it is difficult to be precise without asking for a quote directly. For an estimate, view our extruded acrylic sheet and cast acrylic sheet product pages.

Is there a difference between acrylic and plexiglass?

Plexiglass is a colloquial way to refer to clear acrylic sheets—making acrylic and plexiglass the same product. The origin of the term “plexiglass” comes from a brand of clear cast acrylic sheets called “Plexiglas,” but today plexiglass and acrylic are often used interchangeably.

How to Cut Acrylic Sheets with Basic Tools

While Acme Plastics offers more advanced methods for cutting and machining acrylic, the process is simple to accomplish at home with basic tools. While basic tools are not the optimal way to cut acrylic both a scoring knife and a Dremel are popular ways to cut acrylic. If an optimal cut is needed, then it’s best to have plastic cut by an expert with specialty tools.

How to Cut Acrylic with a Knife

A scoring knife is an easy and accessible way to cut thin sheets of acrylic in a clean, straight line. Simply do the following:

Use a marker or ruler to indicate the area to cut

Use your scoring knife to create a shallow cut in the area

Place the sheet over a table or other edge, with the cut side facing upwards

Use a quick and steady motion to bend the sheet over the edge, resulting in a straight clean edge

How to Cut Acrylic with a Dremel

A Dremel is one way to cut sheets of acrylic into complex shapes. After taking all necessary safety precautions, consider using the following steps:

Use a marker to indicate the area that will be cut off

Clamp the acrylic down-this will ensure a clean cut while preventing injury

Equip your Dremel with a 561 set at speed six or eight

Slowly make the cut, using water to ensure the bit does not overheat and warp the acrylic

Consider sanding the edge of the acrylic sheet to remove any saw marks

While it is possible to cut acrylic plastics yourself, consider enlisting the help of experts to ensure the cutting process is done correctly the first time. Having your acrylic sheets machined by a professional will ensure a clean cut, the proper finish, and most importantly, your overall safety.

What are the Characteristics of Acrylic?

Acrylic has a number of characteristics, which make it an ideal plastic to use. Consider the following benefits:

Highly transparent

Highly impact resistant

Easy to clean and polish

High durability

Light and easy to transport

More scratch resistant


For more on the advantages of acrylic, visit our resource page.

Acrylic Materials & Forms

What is Acrylic Plastic Made of?

Many plastics, including acrylic plastic, use methyl methacrylate as their base molecule. This molecule has a double carbon bond, one of which is broken during polymerization. This allows the molecule to bond with another molecule to create a chain. This process continues until the polymer is created. Monomers such as methyl acrylate and acrylonitrile can also be combined with methyl methacrylate to produce different forms of PMMA.

What is the Difference Between Acrylic and Plastic?

Acrylic plastic represents a family of petroleum-based thermoplastics made from natural gas. It should be noted that acrylic is plastic; however, not all plastic is acrylic—plastic is a generic term for a large family of synthetic or semi-synthetic materials. Acrylic is also known as a polyacrylate and marketed under a few brand names with Plexiglas being the most well-known brand.

What is Acrylic Plastic Used For?

Acrylic plastic is a transparent plastic that resembles glass but offers better transparency and is 50% lighter than glass. It is commonly used inside of point of purchase displays, signage, furniture, aquariums, picture frames, roof windows, and DIY projects.

Is Acrylic Plastic Expensive?

The price of acrylic plastic varies based on the kind of acrylic material you decide to purchase. For example, clear extruded acrylic is cheaper than cast acrylic. As an overall rule, acrylic plastic is more expensive than other kinds of lower-quality plastics. However, if you want a product that is long-lasting and durable, acrylic plastic is worth the investment.

Is Acrylic a Form of Plastic?

Yes, acrylic is a form of plastic. Acrylic is considered polyacrylate, which is one of the most common types of plastic. This material is made from Methyl Methacrylate (MMA), Poly Methyl Methacrylate (PMMA), or a combination of both.

Is Acrylic a Good Material?

Acrylic boasts many great characteristics, including strength and durability. It is a less expensive alternative to both glass and polycarbonate and can be used in a wide variety of functions. It is also easy to clean and is more scratch-resistant than polycarbonate.

Is Acrylic Better than Glass?

For many functions, acrylic or plexiglass is an ideal alternative to glass. It is stronger than glass, making it a better choice where security or durability are required. It is more transparent than glass, so it is perfect for retail displays and windows. Acrylic is also lighter than glass, making it easier to install or transport. Plexiglass is also more shatter-resistant and if it does break, will not form sharp shards. Although glass is a great material, acrylic outshines glass in many aspects.

Is Acrylic Cheaper than Glass?

Acrylic is a less expensive alternative to glass. However, this cost extends beyond the price of the materials. Since plexiglass is lighter than glass and more durable, acrylic is easier to transport and less likely to break. These additional benefits could result in additional savings for your business or home.

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