A Guide to Gluing Acrylic Plastic to Plastic

Whether you’re looking glue acrylic plastic for your next project or just repair a break in your plastic, it’s important to understand the best method to glue plastics together. Gluing plastic together is not the same as gluing together materials like ceramic, wood, or paper, and requires different procedures and precautions. However, if you have acrylic plastic, it’s simple to learn how to glue it at home.

Let’s take a closer look at why special materials are required to glue plastic, and break down how to glue acrylic step-by-step.

How Do I Glue Plastic to Plastic?

If you already tried to glue acrylic plastic together with a typical glue, you may have noticed it’s completely ineffective. This is because plastic can only be bonded with certain solvent-based glues. Solvents will break down the plastic in the area that it’s applied, softening the surface of the plastic. Then, with the addition of some light pressure, two pieces of acrylic can be permanently joined.
Before working with any kind of plastic, be sure to put safety first. When gluing plastics together, always work in a well-ventilated area. Plastic adhesives release strong fumes, while a small gluing job is low risk, breathing these fumes for a long time can cause lightheadedness, headaches, and other complications. Then, put on a pair of goggles, gloves, and a facemask – solvent-based glues can cause significant skin irritation, so it’s best to keep it away from your eyes, mouth, and hands.
Let’s take a closer look at how acrylic materials should be glued.
gluing plastic to plastic

How to Glue Acrylic Plastic

Acrylic plastic is one of the most commonly used plastics among consumers and businesses. It can be as clear as glass, or dyed in various shades and tones. There’s a variety of reasons to glue acrylic – perhaps you’re creating your own display, or a piece of acrylic was broken by a significant impact. Thankfully, gluing acrylic is simple with the correct precautions.

1. Set Up Your Workspace

First, make sure that your workspace meets the basic safety guidelines outlined in the last section. Then, ensure that you’re gluing on a compatible surface. Do not glue acrylic plastic on a table that’s made from plastic, glass, or paper – the solvent-based glue may cause your acrylic to attach to that surface. This can ruin the acrylic’s cosmetic appearance or damage the table. A table made from concrete, metal, or wood is more appropriate.

2. Prepare the Acrylic

Before gluing your acrylic, ensure it’s in proper shape. Make sure there’s no bumps, chips, or cuts. These imperfections can compromise the strength of your bond, since acrylic glue will not easily sink into grooves or crevices.  
For rough areas, use a router or light sandpaper to smooth over acrylic edges – but do not round the edges or make them very smooth, as this will compromise the strength of the bond significantly. If possible, buy acrylic plastic with a saw-cut finish on the sides that you wish to glue.
Acrylic should also undergo a basic cleaning before gluing, as there’s a chance it has been met with some dirt or oils during handling. However, acrylic needs to follow very specific cleaning guidelines. Try using a specially formulated product like Novus #1, or just use lukewarm water, mild soap, and a cloth on the area that you plan to glue. By properly cleaning acrylic, you will ensure the strongest possible bond.
Next, hold the acrylic in place exactly how you would like it to be glued. Then, secure the acrylic using clamps, wooden blocks, or by having a friend hold the acrylic firmly in place. Once the acrylic has been arranged to your liking, it’s time to apply the glue.

3. Apply the Glue

There are a couple different types of acrylic glue, but most trustworthy acrylic glues are made from a base of Methylene Chloride. As a result, this guide will provide gluing guidelines for Methylene Chloride only.
If the adhesive isn’t already in the applicator bottle, then funnel the acrylic glue into the applicator bottle using a funnel. Once the bottle is 75 percent full, stop filling it and attach the cap. Ensure that the cap has a needlepoint tip, otherwise you will risk over-gluing your acrylic. Then, lightly squeeze the bottle to release the air inside.
Turn your bottle upside-down and place the needle in the farthest corner of the joined acrylic pieces. Then, lightly squeeze the bottle and pull it towards you. Ensure that the adhesive is filling all seams and spaces as you move the bottle. Move at a consistent pace and avoid stopping part way through gluing. Otherwise, you may over-glue the plastic, compromising its aesthetic appearance.
If you happen to spill glue during this process, do not wipe it off until it dries. Wiping or applying pressure to an area with acrylic glue will damage it permanently. Instead, wait for it to evaporate, and clean the area if necessary.

4. Allow Adhesion to Take Place

Once the acrylic has been glued, hold it together for about 15 to 30 minutes. Soon after applying, you’ll notice the acrylic’s joined edges are cloudy white. As it dries, it will slowly become more transparent. Once 15 to 30 minutes have elapsed, you can stop holding the acrylic together – a light bond has already been formed.
However, do not put significant pressure on the plastic until 48 hours have elapsed. While it only takes 15 minutes for the acrylic to lightly bond, a strong bond requires the acrylic cement to completely dry.

Key Takeaways

When acrylic is glued together, a world of possibilities opens up for its use cases. You can create retail displays, decorative boxes, models, and even fix cracks and breaks in existing acrylic structures. If the correct precautions are taken, it’s possible to glue together acrylic plastic seamlessly. Just ensure you’re using the right kind of glue and taking the correct safety precautions.
Looking for acrylic plastic for your next project? Take a look at our wide selection of acrylic plastic products. Or, if you have additional questions, contact us today.