The chemical name for acrylic is polymethyl methacrylate, or PMMA
Much Safer than glass
Edges can be polished easily
Much lighter than glass (half weight)
Doesn’t stain easily (washable)
Good adhesion with adhesives
Resists cracking and blistering
Resistant to alkali cleaners
More expensive than glass
It will melt if exposed to a direct flame
Low solvent resistance
It can stress crack
Low continuous service temperature (less than 70 degrees C)
Impact resistance is only approx 8x stronger than glass
How it performs
In the majority of applications, acrylic sheet will not shatter. Rather, it breaks into large dull pieces. Since acrylic is softer and more easily scratched than glass, scratch-resistant coatings are often added to sheets to protect it. While it is not particularly flexible, it’s advantage is that it can be curved and formed into a variety of shapes and configurations.
What it’s used for
Basic machine guards
Retail signboards (illuminated signs)
Food display and hygiene protection in supermarkets
Baths & Sinks
Viewing ports and complete pressure hulls of submersibles
What to be aware of
Acrylic swells and dissolves in many organic solvents. Its impact strength is still significantly lower than polycarbonate and some engineered polymers. Acrylic ignites at 460 °C and burns, forming carbon dioxide, water, carbon monoxide and other compounds, including formaldehyde.
Why choose this
Acrylic sheet is a strong and lightweight material. It has a density less than half that of glass. It also has good impact strength, higher than both glass and styrene. Its UV and environmental stability is superior to most other plastics such as styrene and polyethylene, and Acrylic sheets are often the material of choice for outdoor applications.
Sawing works well on conventional woodworking table saws with fine “triple chip teeth” and work guided against the table saw fence or miter gauge. No melting problem. Curved shapes can be done manually with a scroll saw with the proper blade and relatively slow blade speed.
Acrylic drills well with a drill press, stepping up the diameter to the finished size (extra careful if drilling near an edge) Any melted swarf collar can be removed by hand using a rotary deburrer. Countersinking also works well in a drill press by using a multi-flute countersink. Scratches may easily be removed by polishing or by heating the surface of the material.
Gluing and bonding
Acrylic sheet can be joined using Tensol cement or even superglue, also with heat (welding), or by using solvents such as di- or trichloromethane to dissolve the plastic at the joint, which then fuses and sets, forming an almost invisible weld
Food applications suitability
Acrylic sheets are generally FDA approved for food contact; however, special grades are also produced to meet the European directives regarding plastic materials that will come into contact with food products.
Its probably not the greatest material for wear resistance, so discount it for high wear applications.
Acrylic sheets have poor resistance to many chemicals, including acetone, benzene, and liquid chlorine.
Acrylic sheets are noted for their exceptional clarity and optical properties. Acrylics are widely used in lighting fixtures because they are slow-burning or even self-extinguishing.
Other Trade names (also known as):
Size range, colours and availability
Acrylic sheets come in clear or opal in the main. Available thicknesses are 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm, 10mm, and 12mm as standard although thicker material is available to order. Coloured Perspex again is available to order but mainly in 3mm or 5mm
Acrylic plastic sheet is completely transparent, flexible, and exhibits pretty good resistance to breakage. Acrylic is an excellent material to use in place of glass for windows, skylights, doors, partitions, etc. Acrylic is lightweight, half the weight of glass, and it is virtually unaffected by nature. It’s transparency, gloss and dimensional shape are virtually unaffected by years of exposure to the elements, salt spray or corrosive atmospheres. Acrylic materials withstand exposure to light from fluorescent lamps without darkening or deteriorating.