In the world of plastic, acrylic sheets are one of the most popular and highly-sought out materials. If you are considering using acrylic sheets for your next project, but aren’t quite sure about what type of sheets you may need or how to properly care for them once acquired, we’ve got you covered. Acme Plastics has a comprehensive guide on the ins and outs of acrylic sheets and everything you need to know in order to properly customize, machine, and maintain them. Listed below are some of the most common questions our plastic specialists receive about acrylic sheets and the answers we share with our consumers when prompted with these very essential inquiries about our line of acrylic sheets at Acme Plastics.
What Is Acrylic Plastic?
Acrylic, also known as plexiglass or acrylic glass, is a versatile plastic material with a multitude of purposes and benefits, available in a wide range of colors and opacities. Acrylic is most 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. Conveniently, acrylic plastic 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.
How Are Acrylic Sheets Made?
There are two popular kinds of acrylic sheets: cast and extruded. These two acrylic sheet variations each have their own exclusive manufacturing process.
Cast acrylic sheets can be created using two different manufacturing techniques, batch cell and continuous production. Batch cell is the most used process. This is a simple and easy way to create acrylic sheets ranging from .06-inches to 6-inches thick, and sheets ranging from three feet to several hundred feet! With this technique, sheets are often made-to-order. On the other hand, continuous production is a quick process that runs nonstop, requiring less labor. This manufacturing process is popular for very thin or narrow sheets.
Extruded acrylic sheets use extrusion-grade polymer pellets as base. These pellets are created when a monomer is suspended in a water solution and a catalyst is added, creating droplets of polymers. These pellets are then fed into a machine called an extruder, which heats pellets until they have a molten, liquid consistency. From there, the molten plastic is put into a metal dye, which is like a mold. The dye then flattens on the molten plastic, creating a uniform sheet through pressure. Sheets can be made in a range of thicknesses depending on how much space is between the dye, the sheets are then fed into cooling rows, which makes the acrylic sheet solid. From there, the sheet will be cut to the proper size, and finished using sanding and buffing techniques.
What is OP2 Acrylic Plastic?
ACRYLITE OP2 sheet is an ultraviolet filtering grade of acrylic sheet. ACRYLITE OP2 filters 98% of the hazardous ultraviolet light portion of sunlight; it is commonly used for display cases and protective glazing, predominantly within museums, galleries, and private collectors.
What is OP3 Acrylic Plastic?
OP3 acrylic sheets are commonly clear or tinted frame-grade acrylic sheets that provide 98% of UV protection. OP3 acrylic is designed to meet the unique needs of professional framers, museum curators, and artists. OP3 is known for its resiliency and ability to protect artwork and documents from harmful ultraviolet light (UV), which is the most commonplace cause of fading and degradation.
What is P95 Acrylic Plastic?
Acrylic P95 Sheets have a translucent matte finish with superior ink and paint retention properties. It is commonly used for digital printing, silk screening and sign making. Like standard acrylic, these acrylic sheets have more clarity and impact resistance than glass and are easy to fabricate. They are available in a variety of colors and thicknesses.
What is P99 Acrylic Plastic?
Acrylic non-glare P99 frame grade sheets are an ideal material to use when displaying art, photographs, prints, and more. This frame grade acrylic is camera inspected for imperfections through the manufacturing process to guarantee the highest quality standards for the picture framing industry. Like a standard acrylic sheet, non-glare P99 frame grade acrylic is half the weight of glass while being 17 times more impact resistant. These acrylic sheets help minimize glare and reflections with its soft matte finish, giving a top grade viewing experience at almost any angle.
What Are the Benefits of Acrylic Sheets?
Acrylic sheets have a wide variety of benefits one of which is that they can be used across many industries. Other benefits of acrylic sheets include easy fabrication, shaping, are lighter and stronger than glass, highly transparent, easy to clean and machine, and quite easy to maintain. This makes it a choice material for point-of-purchase applications, displays, windows, signage, picture frames, furniture, aquariums, and DIY projects.
What are Some Commercial Uses of Acrylic Sheets?
There are many uses for acrylic sheets in commercial projects. Some of the most popular commercial projects that acrylic sheets are utilized include commercial plexiglass windows, skylights, secure facilities, retail displays, trade shows, and barrier shields.
How Do You Cut Acrylic Sheets?
To cut thicker sheets of acrylic, it’s best to use either a jigsaw or a table saw that’s outfitted with a special blade that’s designed specifically for cutting acrylic. This will allow you to cut cleanly the first time and make the finishing process much more straightforward. If these blades aren’t available, a regular blade with a high tooth count will do the job.
How Do You Remove Scratches from Acrylic Sheets?
When removing scratches from your acrylic sheets it is important to evaluate if the scratches are light or deep. The process of repairing deeper scratches is similar to the process to repair light scratches, except we recommend adding two more items – 600 grit sandpaper and Novus No. 3 solution. Below are the steps to removing scratches from acrylic sheets:
Before starting, make sure that the acrylic sheet is cleaned either with dish soap or Novus No. 1. Then, follow this procedure to remove moderately deep (under 5 mm) scratches from acrylic:
- Wet a piece of 600 grit sandpaper and rub it onto the scratched portion in a circular motion.
- Use a piece of dry 600 grit sandpaper, and rub it onto the same portion in a circular motion.
- Alternate between the above two steps for about four minutes. Your acrylic will look rough – this is fine.
- Wet a piece of 800 grit sandpaper and rub it onto the scratched portion in a circular motion.
- Use a piece of dry 800 grit sandpaper, and rub it onto the same portion in a circular motion.
- Alternate between the above two steps for about three minutes.
- Wet a piece of 1200 grit sandpaper and lightly rub it into the scratched portion in a circular motion.
- Use a piece of dry 1200 grit sandpaper and go over the above potion again in a circular motion.
- Alternate between the above two steps until you believe there are no more scratches.
- Take a dry, clean cotton or microfiber cloth. Wipe away any fragments.
Warning: A dirty cloth could scratch the acrylic all over again!
- Spray Novus No. 3 to the sanded area. Gently use a clean cloth to polish with a firm, back and forth motion.
- Remove all remaining Novus No. 3 with a clean cloth.
- Apply Novus No. 2 to the area. Gently use a clean cloth in a firm, back and forth motion.
- Use a cloth to wipe away any remaining cleaner.
- After following this procedure, your acrylic should appear scratch-free. Polish the plastic using Novus No. 1 for best results.
Keep in mind, deep cracks cannot easily be fixed. If cracked acrylic must be fixed, there are a few ways to glue acrylic together. However, this won’t necessarily join the acrylic cleanly, and some glue residue may be visible. If this isn’t suitable for your acrylic’s use case, there’s not much to be done besides replacing the acrylic sheet.
We hope that this has been a helpful resource for you to better understand acrylic sheets and all its benefits, purposes, and use cases. If you have questions or would like to discuss customizing your acrylic sheets for your next project, contact one of our plastic specialists for more details about what we can do for you.