Acrylic, also known as Plexiglas, is a versatile plastic material with a variety of purposes and benefits, available in a spectrum of colors and opacities. It was initially used during World War ll for products such as airplane windows, canopies, and turrets. Today, acrylic is most commonly sold in sheets of various thicknesses but can also be found in forms such as rods or tubes, and styles such as frosted, mirrored, or non-glare. Not only is acrylic available in many shapes and sizes, they can also be molded and colored to fit specific applications. No matter what option best suits your needs, acrylic will provide a cost-effective, durable material for your project. Since acrylic combines a wide variety of options with a copious amount of benefits, they can be fashioned into a diverse range of useful products. This includes aquariums, retail displays, window panes, and even bulletproof glass! Acrylic is almost certainly bound to be an exemplary choice no matter what purpose it is used for. Physical Properties of Acrylic and Plexiglas Sheets: High impact resistance High optical clarity Innate weather ability and UV resistance Excellent dimensional stability Lightweight Excellent chemical resistance 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. Acrylic Usage: Skylights and commercial windows Retail signage and displays Aquariums and terrariums Protective barriers for manufacturing Bullet resistant glass Plexiglas windows Greenhouse panels Advantages: Easy to Fabricate Easy to Shape Lighter than Glass Stronger than Glass Highly Transparent Easy to Clean Easy to Maintain While acrylic certainly has a number of advantages, we’ve highlighted four of the main ones below: Acrylic is Easy to Fabricate and Shape When acrylic plastic is heated it becomes malleable and can be molded into many shapes. As it cools down, it holds its formed shape, allowing it to be machined, drilled, or sawed just like wood. When it is being shaped, molds made from wood or plastic can be used, which is very cost-effective for manufacturers. Because it is a thermoplastic and softens under high temperatures, acrylic can be formed into virtually any shape. Acrylic is 50% Lighter than Glass, but Much Stronger One of the greatest advantages of using acrylic plastic in place of glass is that while it’s more durable, it also weighs 50% less than glass. Whether fabricated in cast or extruded forms, acrylic is less expensive while remaining 10 times more impact-resistant than glass. 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. This is an important safety feature for applications such as shower doors, plexiglass windows, sliding doors, and enclosures built for hockey rinks and ball fields. Acrylic is Highly Transparent Acrylic plastic remains transparent as it gets older without excessive yellow tinting. This is extremely important for applications that are exposed to sunlight. More fade-resistant than other plastics, acrylic plastic’s light transmittance is equal to glass while providing the same aesthetic appearance for a more reliable, long-term result. This makes it perfect for applications such as plexiglass windows, automotive screens, computers, eyeglasses, tanks and more. Acrylic is Easy to Maintain While there are some rules surrounding acrylic care and cleaning, it’s an easy material to maintain. When cleaning acrylic that has slight blemishes and dirt it is recommended to use a wet microfiber cloth and blot the material. Additionally, it’s important to ensure particles and grit are completely removed from your cleaning cloth, as accidentally rubbing rough dirt or unwanted particles can cause acrylic to further scratch. The gentler you are when cleaning acrylic, the better. Avoid using rough paper towels because they will not remove scratches and may accidentally cause them. Also avoid ammonia-based products like Windex or other home glass cleaners, because they contain harmful chemicals that will damage the surface leaving it looking cloudy. When cleaning and maintaining acrylic the easiest and safest measure is to use soapy water or Novus products. These products will keep your acrylic plastic-looking polished and new with minimal effort.