Acrylic, otherwise known as plexiglass or acrylic glass, is a transparent thermoplastic that has broad uses throughout various industries as an alternative to glass. Going by the scientific name Polymethyl Methylcrylate, its most prominent qualities - those that make it such a useful material - are its clarity, shatter-resistance, and lightweight nature.
Wherever you might encounter plexiglass, you will find that it will be one of two types defined by their production method. These are cast acrylics and extruded acrylics. In this piece, we'll be taking a closer look at these two types of plexiglass, delving into what differentiates them, what they're most suited for, and when to choose one over the other for your needs.
Let's get right into it.
Cast Acrylic Sheets
These are acrylic sheets made from pouring out the liquid ingredients that makeup acrylic (methyl methacrylate, monomer, and initiators) into forms or molds. These are then allowed to set into the desired shape. The result is a high optical quality product that is superior in strength and durability to glass without sacrificing its clarity.
Benefits of cast acrylic sheets include:
- Superior chemical resistance, demonstrated by their resistance to crazing (the formation of tiny networks of cracks) when exposed to corrosive substances or solvents
- Superior capacity to be reworked under high-temperature settings
- Higher optical properties and surface finish
- A broader range of thermoforming applications
Extruded Acrylic Sheets
On the other hand, these types of sheets are manufactured through a process involving the pushing of acrylic pellets through extrusion dies that are highly polished to produce the finished