Acrylic plastic is one of the most durable and toughest materials used in manufacturing today, with a multitude of applications across many industries. Flexibility and design make Acrylic the perfect option for so many projects and we stock a range of colours and sizes for bulk order sheets. We cut to your specifications and offer low cost samples for you to test the look and fit of our sheet panels.
Despite being one of the most popular materials used in manufacturing, from medical and retail products to building projects, there are many questions surrounding Acrylic and its properties and how it can be applied.
Acrylic Versus Glass
We all know that glass is heavy and can be unwieldy. It is also generally expensive. For instance, mobile phones such as the iPhone contain heavy glass (Gorilla glass) which makes the phone expensive and heavy. In comparison, many low-end phones use acrylic plastic for the phone screen displays, offering a lighter solution.
Effectively, acrylic plastic is no doubt more flexible than glass and certainly cheaper. But does this make it more efficient? Not necessarily. With the application of phones in particular, the acrylic will likely scratch more than a glass display and so there are trade-offs across various applications but the cost efficiency, benefits and design ability is generally worth it when it comes to acrylic.
Just some of the key points and benefits compared to glass include:
- Lightweight - Acrylic is half the weight of glass
- Scratch resistant
- Manufacturing process is easier - compared with glass, it’s easier to mould and fabricate to specification
- Impact resistance - 10- 20 times stronger than glass
- Insulation - Acrylic is better than glass when it comes to insulation making it perfect for skylights
Acrylic vs Tempered Glass
Tempered glass is safety glass with enhanced strength over regular glass. It effectively offers a greater strength and durability than regular glass and when it shatters it breaks into smaller chunks which makes it ideal and safer for more public-oriented applications such as phone boxes, vehicle windows and retail doors and windows.
However, despite the extra strength that comes with tempered glass, the key attributes of acrylic remain and therefore the acrylic benefits discussed previously still apply here. Acrylic is still more durable, flexible for manufacturing and better for cutting to specification. Although not as strong, it is the better option across various applications.
Is Acrylic Plastic Toxic?
It is not toxic in its final form but it’s the manufacturing process where there is a relatively small amount of toxic fumes whilst it is being produced but not on the same levels as many other materials and ultimately, the final product is not harmful. Acrylic is one of the few materials with a low output of fumes during production and containing no harmful substances once it is in its final form. It is classed as non-hazardous under OSHA regulations.
Does Acrylic Yellow in the Sun?
No, Acrylic will not yellow in the sun. It is derived from natural gas and so will not discolour. Acrylic is one of the few plastics which is not affected by UV light. This makes it ideal for shed windows and coloured skylights or panels for your home projects, without fear of discolouring over time.
How Weather resistant is Clear Acrylic?
As with coloured acrylic panels, clear acrylic also doesn’t have the risk of discolouration but it also offers durability against poor weather as well as a lot of UV light. You won’t expect to have to change your panels over within a 10 year period because of the weather. The durable nature means these panels are great for storm weather and protection against wind and heavy rain. Clarity also remains the same from the day it is installed, to its last, with no degradation to transparency, unlike with traditional glass windows.
Does acrylic plastic look like glass?
Acrylic has the clarity and function of glass but no, it won’t look like glass in terms of the finish. Acrylic coloured plastic is applicable for giving you a more modernised and stylish designed look than regular glass windows and so any installation won’t “look” like glass.
Does acrylic plastic contain BPA?
Acrylic plastic does not contain Bisphenol A (BPA) and this is a key focal point for many people when considering which plastic to use for building projects or manufacturing for different applications. Polycarbonate plastic does contain BPA but acrylic is a BPA free option which is not toxic in its final form. There are known fumes which can emanate from the manufacturing process during injection moulding for instance, but as with any manufacturing environment, protective gear should be worn and ultimately, the final product and form is safe for consumers.
Does Acrylic scratch easily?
Acrylic can scratch unfortunately, however, unlike with glass which needs replacing when suffering from bad scratches, acrylic can in some cases be polished out. You can buy official scratch remover for deeper scratches and this works to help remove obvious scratches but compared with glass, it is still the preferred option when considering longevity and resistance against accidents and adverse weather.
What are the disadvantages of Acrylic?
There are pros and cons to any material in relation to manufacturing or production but with acrylic there are only really a few main disadvantages over other alternatives. Acrylic, despite being stronger than glass, has relatively low impact resistance when challenged with excessive force. Generally, it is still ideal for windows and skylights and you’ll rarely have issues with its durability but there is a stronger, more impact resistant material you could use in Polycarbonate plastic which is better for more demanding applications.
As mentioned earlier, acrylic also suffers from scratches more so than glass. The nature of the finish will show up scratches more easily. It will also pick up dirt and grease quite easily too, however, this is offset by the fact that it is easier to clean than glass overall.
On the whole, the disadvantages are few and the benefits far outweigh the negatives which is why acrylic is used by retailers, construction companies and in manufacturing many different types of products across thousands of industries around the World. It is light, strong and durable and ultimately, that makes for a perfect combination and a desirable production material.