Plexiglass / Acrylic

Acrylic, also known as PMMA, is a thermoplastic that can be formed into a number of shapes, making it suitable for use in a broad range of applications. Our acrylic sheet options are ideal for a vast array of projects, including signage, displays, skylights and hundreds more. Acrylic has a variety of high-performance properties, among the most important being its optical clarity, low Ultra Violet sensitivity, and overall weather resistance. Acrylic provides a clear, glass-like brilliance and translucence, but is much lighter and much more durable than glass. 

Acrylic, also known as PMMA, is a thermoplastic that can be formed into a number of shapes, making it suitable for use in a broad range of applications. Our acrylic sheet options are ideal for a vast array of projects, including signage, displays, skylights and hundreds more. Acrylic has a variety of high-performance properties, among the most important being its optical clarity, low Ultra Violet sensitivity, and overall weather resistance. Acrylic provides a clear, glass-like brilliance and translucence, but is much lighter and much more durable than glass. Acrylic is sold under brands like Optix, Plexiglas, Lucite and Acrylite.

Acrylic - High Performance Properties

Glass-like Brilliance and Translucence

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Acrylic (Plexiglass)

Acrylic, also commonly known as Plexiglass, is a thermoplastic that has outstanding strength, great optical clarity, and good scratch resistance properties. Plexiglas® is the most popular brand name of Acrylic which is why it is often referred to as Plexiglass. Acrylic is 17 times the impact resistance of glass and is practically shatterproof. It has a glass-like appearance but is 50% lighter in weight in comparison. Acrylic has a heat tolerance of 320°F and can be heated to its melting point, cooled, and reheated again without any sort of degradation to the material. Acrylic can be laser cut allowing for precise shapes and cuts and can be easily flamed polished for beautiful edges. This material is very similar to polycarbonate and can be used in a lot of the same applications. Acrylic is incredibly versatile and is commonly found in a variety of products/goods such as lenses, nail polish, security barriers, windows, furniture, and fish aquariums. There are many types of acrylic, the most common being, Clear Cast, Clear Extruded, Patterned Acrylic, Mirrored Acrylic, UV Resistant, and Colored Acrylic.

  • Great optical clarity
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Outstanding insulator
  • Noise-reducing
  • UV Resistant
  • Easy to heat form
  • Weather-resistant
  • Impact-resistant
  • Chemical resistant
  • Stiff
  • Easily fabricated

As the preferred choice for cut to size acrylic in the US, we have a wide range of different thicknesses of plexiglass that you can order online. Here are some available thicknesses:

  • 0.093"
  • 1/8"
  • 3/16"
  • 1/4" 
  • 3/8"
  • 1/2"
  • 3/4"
  • 1"
  • 1.25”
  • 1.5”

For applications requiring thick acrylic sheets, we recommend cast acrylic. For custom acrylic orders, just use our quick quote calculator or contact us for a manual quote. Please have the following information handy prior to starting the process - thickness, dimension, quantity, color, and material. ShapesPlastics offers free shipping for all standard orders.

Clear Cast Acrylic- Manufactured by casting the chemicals, initiators, and additives into a mold and allowing it to form/set that way giving it a higher molecular weight. It has better thermal stability, higher resistance to cracking, good thermoforming range, UV-resistant, and has greater scratch tolerances. It is completely transparent and has tremendous optical clarity, resembling glass but is 17 times the strength. Cast Acrylic can easily be shaped, machined, and laser-cut. 

Clear Extruded Acrylic- This type of acrylic is manufactured by heating the polymers and feeding it through a series of rollers, forming it into a sheet. Because of the extrusion manufacturing process, it yields a material with a more even thickness throughout the sheet. It is lightweight, stronger than glass, UV resistant, has good clarity and is transparent, and is the more cost-effective of the acrylic options. Extruded acrylic also has good malleable properties making it easier to mold and bend. It can also be machined and laser cut. 

Patterned Acrylic- Refers to acrylic that is usually translucent, allowing light through the material but the optical clarity is reduced, resulting in a more opaque finish. Still offers the same durability and qualities as the above types of acrylic. Common patterned acrylics are:

  • P95 - matte finish instead of glossy/shiny
  • Frosted acrylic - completely opaque but allows light to come through
  • Dry-Erase - clarity not as clear, alternative to a whiteboard


That people use plexiglass and acrylic interchangeably? There is absolutely no difference between both of them. Acrylic is an abbreviation for polymethyl methacrylate and Plexiglas® is one of the many brand names of this plastic. Over time, this brand name has become generic as ‘plexiglass’. Just think of the brand Kleenex that is interchangeably used for facial tissues.

Acrylic Applications

Plexiglass is a highly versatile material that is used in a variety of situations, most commonly as a glass replacement material. Plexiglass comes in a variety of colors and surface patterns for applications requiring a range of purposes such as light diffusion, object privacy, and custom fabrication. 

  • Windows- Its impact resistance and resistance to UV rays makes it a great alternative to glass windows
  • Personal Protective Equipment - a practical solution to improve safety conditions and sanitization around their homes and workplaces.

  • Aquarium - strong & durable and high optical clarity, so you can always keep an eye on your beloved fish.

  • POP Display Cage 
  • Pet Enclosure - Pet owners need to always make sure that their animals have a safe and comfortable environment to call home.    

  • Kitchen Splashback - Many people automatically opt for ceramic or glass tiles for this purpose. But acrylic offers tons of advantages that match or surpass these common options.

Physical Properties of Acrylic / Plexiglass

  Units ASTM Test General Purpose Acrylic
Tensile strength @ break @ 73°F psi D638 2,800 – 10,900
Flexural modulus @ 73°F psi D790 188,000 – 512,000
Izod impact (notched) ft-lbs/in of notch D256 0.22 – 1.1
Deflection Temperature Under Load @ 264 psi Unannealed ft-lbs/in of notch D658 162 – 221
Water absorption @ 73°F – 24 hours % D570 0.29 – 0.42
Coefficient of linear thermal expansion (CLTE) (in/in F) D696 3.3E-5 to 5.0E-5
Taber Abrasion Resistance mg D1044 0.00100 – 3.81
Deflection Temperature Under Load @ 264 psi °F D648 125 – 223


* Technical Data is provided courtesy of UL Prospector ( and IAPD ( Data is to be considered representative and is provided for guidance only. All product performance must be verified by the user under actual application conditions.

Acrylic Fabrication Methods

Plexiglass sheets can easily be processed by the do-it-yourselfer but it’s important to take into account that they are much more susceptible to breakage than polycarbonate. There are many trusted processing techniques such as drilling, sawing, milling, and sanding that can be used to process acrylic/plexiglass sheets. On the other hand, techniques such as punches and typesetting are not suitable for this material. 

For users who do not have the skill, experience, tools, or time to fabricate these sheets, ShapesPlastics offers cut-to-size ad hoc services. The ability to create cut-to-size products that deliver the best quality, precision in cutting, and tight tolerances, is what truly sets us apart. You can also benefit from additional savings in shipping as cutting the sheet down to your final size, might qualify it for free standard shipping.


Drilling Acrylic / Plexiglass

There are a few factors to consider when drilling in a plexiglass sheet. Cast Acrylic is better suited for drilling than Extruded Acrylic. This is particularly because Cast Acrylic sheets have less internal tension and offer more dimensional stability. Like all other plastic sheets, thinner plates are more susceptible to breaking and tearing than thicker plates.

Another thing to keep in mind is maintaining discipline and patience. Plexiglass is brittle and drilling holes quickly can break out and lead to cracks. You can overcome this through preparation and using the right tools. The best tool for this process when machining acrylic / Plexiglass is with a drill press and an ordinary iron drill bit from any do-it-yourself store. 


Sawing Acrylic / Plexiglass

  • Cast Acrylic: the best tool is a circular saw with a fine-toothed saw blade. If that is not available, then you can use a jigsaw blade with fine teeth for a smoother finish - let the machine do the heavy lifting without putting too much effort or speeding the process. For the best sawing result, ensure that the Plexiglass panel is lying flat and does not rattle when the saw passes through it.
  • Extruded Acrylic: do not use a jigsaw blade. Experts at ShapesPlastics highly recommend a circular saw, table saw, or saw table with a fine-toothed saw blade for machining this material.

For complex shapes, Polycarbonate sheets are ideal as they can be machined with any sawing machine without breaking or tearing. For the do-it-yourselfers, we recommended ordering a sample piece of plastic sheets prior to purchase so you can practice different machining styles. You can also take advantage of our custom fabrication services to save time and money - get what you want - exactly the way you want it. 


Sanding Acrylic / Plexiglass 

There are many reasons and applications that can require sanding acrylic / Plexiglass sheets. Firstly, to minimize any visible signs of sawing or machining for a matte surface. Secondly, to smoothen any sharp edges for applications in heavy foot traffic areas, and lastly as processing to step to final polishing.

Before you start sanding Plexiglass, you need to know which type of Plexiglass you will be sanding: extruded or cast. This will allow you to choose the right tool and the right grit (coarse) sandpaper for the job. Cast Acrylic can be sanded with a heavy machine, whereas Extruded acrylic cannot. This is because under excess pressure, stress and tension is built in the edge of the material leading to poor results when sanding. In terms of tools, experts use heavy-duty belt sanders and flatbed sanders. For the do-it-yourselfers, there is a range of other options such as multi-sanding, delta sanding, and lighter belt sanders for sanding. You can also sand them manually by wrapping sandpaper around a block. Experts at ShapesPlastics recommend ordering a sample piece of plastic sheets prior to purchase so you can practice sanding styles.

Polishing Acrylic / Plexiglass

Polishing is the last processing step after the edges have been finely sanded to achieve a shiny result. Professionals use diamond polishers and flame polishers for this. The hobbyist can polish with a cloth wheel or with a polishing block. An expert tip - oftentimes, a layer of polishing paste will remain on the polished surface. This can easily be removed with felt cloth or a soft cotton cloth.

Bending Acrylic / Plexiglass

Cold and hot bending is possible with both Cast Acrylic and Extruded Acrylic.

Hot Bending Plexiglass

This is reserved for professionals and a select group of hobbyists with an ample amount of experience and skill for the material. 

  • Professionals can bend Acrylic / Plexiglass using thermal bending benches, heat coils, and air circulation ovens. The material is heated in whole or in part to about 160 degrees Celsius. Once heated enough, you can bend the plate into the desired share and let it cool in the same mold. Once it’s done cooling, the material remains in its shape without support.
  • Experienced hobbyists can heat Acrylic / Plexiglass on a heating plate, in the oven, or with the help of a strong industrial hairdryer. It is important to prevent the protective film from melting on the plate. It is therefore recommended to remove the protective film beforehand. Watch the material closely during heating and avoid overheating.

Cold Bending Plexiglass

Unlike Polycarbonate, Acrylic / Plexiglass is relatively brittle so avoid applying any excess pressure when cold bending plexiglass as it can crack or tear the material. Always remember, it is only possible to bend the material to the extent it indicates. A good rule of thumb is that the thinner the plate, the easier it is to bend, but also the more vulnerable it is, so avoid any excessive force. After cold bending Acrylic / Plexiglass, clamp the material in a mold or frame to avoid it from springing back to the original shape of the plate.


Experts at ShapesPlastics recommend ordering a sample piece of the plastic sheet prior to purchase so you can practice different bending techniques. 

Gluing Acrylic / Plexiglass

A successful gluing can lead to beautiful products and applications, but it requires a lot of knowledge and specialized craftsmanship. Both Cast Acrylic and Extruded Acrylic have a lot of internal tension. This is especially true for Extruded acrylic / Plexiglass, however, machining cast (sawing, drilling, or milling) can cause high internal tension. This tension is a trap for the inexperienced hobbyist and can manifest itself in the form of cracking. A quickly applied glue may at first glance give a mirage of a good result, but chances are that these hairline fractures/cracks will develop quickly and cause real visible cracks. 

There exist two categories of adhesives - solvent adhesive and reaction adhesive. Reaction adhesive gives better and long-lasting results. Experts at ShapesPlastics recommend ordering a sample piece of the plastic sheet prior to purchase so you can practice different gluing techniques based on your application requirements. 

Maintenance and Cleaning of Acrylic / Plexiglass

  1. You can wash your plexiglass sheet with a mild soap or detergent and lukewarm water solution. 
  2. Rinse well.
  3. You can then wipe it down using a clean soft cloth or sponge. 
  4. Dry by blotting with a damp cloth or chamois.

Do not use: Window cleaning fluids, scouring compounds, gritty cloths, leaded or ethyl gasoline, or solvents such as alcohol, acetone, carbon tetrachloride, etc.


ShapesPlastics is your go-to for your Plexiglass needs. We offer a variety of plexiglass sheets in different thicknesses and grades. We carry a large inventory of popular brands in a variety of thicknesses listed below. The thickness you need for your application depends entirely on the application at hand. If you are unsure about which thickness is suitable for your project, please contact us. We are backed by the industry's most knowledgeable sales team, have extensive experience, and can, with sufficient information, make a good estimate of the thickness to be used. If you need a larger sheet, request a free quote via the contact page.

We offer cut-to-size and fabrication options so you can get exactly what you need without the hassle of having to cut it yourself. We also provide value-added precision fabrication services such as drilling holes, diamond and flame polishing, rounded edges, radius corners, and state-of-the-art CNC routing and cutting services for exceptionally smooth surface finish.

Not only can we cut what you need, but we can also ship it for free if it is a standard size piece. We offer competitive prices, an easy-to-use website, and have knowledgeable staff that is ready to help point you in the right direction. Thinking of purchasing Plexiglass sheets at Home Depot or Plexiglass at Lowes? They don't cut to your specification and frankly, here at ShapesPlastics, we are less expensive and offer an array of services so you get exactly what you want.

Frequently Asked Questions:

In layman's terms, Plexiglas® is made from acrylic, and plexiglass is a generic term used interchangeably to describe both the name brand and the material itself.

Absolutely. Acrylic plastic is very well suited for outdoor applications. This is because it offers great weather resistance, allowing it to be left outdoors without yellowing or any other significant degrading.Especially in the form of clear acrylic sheet, it can sustain high levels of UV light, extreme cold and heat, withstanding temperatures of 180F without beginning to soften. It can also come into contact with saltwater without compromising any structural integrity.

It can also be used in high traffic areas as it is scratch resistant and highly durable compared to many other kinds of plastic and glass - that can chip or break on impact.

Experts at ShapesPlastics though recommend that you exercise caution based on the application of the material. For example, colored acrylic isn’t recommended for outdoor applications as its liable to fade in direct sunlight. Also, depending on the application, a stronger or more heat resistant plastic may be more appropriate such as Polycarbonate for roof panels and storm windows. 

Yes, they are both used interchangeably.

Plexiglass has a higher insulation value than glass. Plexiglass sheets are often also used for  secondary windows.

Plexiglass and glass both offer similar soundproofing characteristics. Compared to glass, Plexiglass is a more cost-effective solution that offers better dampening and absorption, which means you can potentially double it up for increased effect. Plexiglass is often used as a secondary window in buildings and hospitality industries such as hotels and restaurants as noise barriers.

Due to its great weather ability and durability, plexiglass is a popular material amongst hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers. Acrylic sheets effectively combine the features of glass with that of plastic. It is resistant to chemical, heat and snow, lightweight, offers great optical clarity, cheaper to buy and easier to handle during construction. Plexiglass is more economical during the colder months as it traps heat, which means less cost of heating your greenhouse. 

This makes plexiglass the ideal building material for greenhouses.

Frequently Asked Questions

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