It is extremely difficult to imagine any branch of the industry without the use of transparent materials. The most famous of these is, of course, quartz glass. However, some of its properties like fragility or a large mass, limit its use. Acrylic glass has the same light transmission characteristics, but it is much lighter. Therefore, it is widely used due to its exceptional properties and low cost, both to manufacture and purchase, so it is suitable for replacing conventional glass in many cases.
Methacrylic acid was first synthesised in 1865. In 1877, German chemists discovered how to convert methyl methacrylate to poly methyl methacrylate. Acrylic glass appeared in 1928 and its first application was associated with the development of aviation. Plastic had a much lower mass compared to quartz glass, which made it indispensable for glazing cockpits. The material was patented in 1933, and three years later mass production began.
Distinctive properties of acrylic:
- Lightness — an acrylic sheet is 2.5 times lighter than glass. This simplifies its use in construction (there is no need to build additional supports in the supporting structures), transportation, and installation.
- Resistance to moisture — the material is successfully used for the production of aquariums, glazing of water transport.
- Impact resistance — acrylic glass is 5 times more impact resistant than glass. And, what is important, when hitting, the acrylic does not crumble into small fragments.
- Wide operating temperature range — acrylic glass does not deform at high or low temperatures. It is resistant to changes in weather conditions and has a distinctive resistance to ageing: even if used for many years, the optical and mechanical properties will not change significantly.
- Resistance to UV rays — even when exposed to ultraviolet rays, acrylic retains its mechanical properties and it doesn’t change its colour. This is due to the composition of the material: UV rays do not linger in polymers, and, therefore, do not destroy its internal structure.
- Light transmission — sheets of acrylic glass transmit up to 93% of visible light, which is more than other polymeric materials. Acrylic light transmission does not change over a long period of time. The light transmission of frosted acrylic can be from 20% to 75%. For the production of lighting fixtures, for example, matte acrylic glass with a light transmission of 50-75% is best suited, and for the production of advertising structures, acrylic with a light transmission of 25-39% is used.
- It doesn’t emit toxic gases when burning — acrylic glass is a material that is highly flammable. But its advantage is that when burning no toxic gases are released, unlike many other combustible plastics. Acrylic ignites at a temperature of 460 °C— 635 °C.
- Environmentally friendly material — acrylic glass can be used both outdoors and indoors, including in children’s rooms and medical institutions: it is absolutely safe and it doesn’t emit toxic substances. The material can be recycled and reused.
- Easy Processing — Acrylic glass can be cut (laser or router), glued, drilled, polished, bent and moulded. This makes it an ideal material for the production of volumetric structures, which are most used in the advertising business.
- Acrylic glass is moulded at a temperature of 150 °C — 160 °C, while the ordinary glass is moulded at a temperature of about 1000 °C. This is an obvious advantage for using acrylic glass in production.
Uses of Acrylic Sheeting
Good technical and operational characteristics of acrylic allow its use in many areas.
Acrylic along with the ordinary glass is used for glazing various objects: houses, public buildings, shop windows, facades, as well as for protecting various devices.
The low weight of acrylic sheets can significantly reduce the load on the supporting elements of buildings and significantly reduce these elements, which gives the buildings glazed in this way, the effect of “soaring”, “airiness”.
In addition, acrylic sheeting is used for transport glazing, various canopies, greenhouses, solaria, aquariums and terrariums, as well as shelves, furniture elements, various partitions, counter tops, for the manufacture of souvenirs, tags, number plates, and decorative products.
Painted and grooved acrylic varieties are used for decorative purposes. For example, stained-glass panels can be created using painted corrugated acrylic sheet.
It can also be used for glazing doors, shower stalls, as well as in lighting: diffusers for household and street lamps, various luminous floors and ceiling panels, illuminated letters (for signs and advertising products), various decorative interior details, equipped with internal lighting.
As you can see, acrylic glass is a very valuable and versatile material, which allows it to be used in many areas. Acrylic is the best alternative to ordinary glass. High-quality, a reliable and environmentally friendly product with a multi-year warranty, the properties of which convince us that it can be used for different purposes.