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Acrylic and Its Uses

5/10/2012 2:04:22 PM | by Anonymous


If you went to design and technology school you would remember using a plastic like hard material that can either be transparent or opaque. That material is known as acrylic which has glass like properties such as transparency. However, it has certain advantages over glass that make it a better choice in constructing materials which otherwise may be made of glass since it is not fragile and weighs only 50% as much as glass. It can also be heated to be molded into different shapes.

There are two basic types of acrylic material; extruded and cell cast acrylic. Extruded acrylic is simpler to make and is cheaper compared to cell cast acrylic. The former is created in a process where liquid plastic is made to go through rollers that press it into thin sheets as it cools. These sheets however are softer than cast acrylic, can scratch easily and may also contain impurities. Despite these disadvantages, extruded acrylic is still of very good quality and accounts for the majority of acrylic that is available in the market. Some applications of this form of acrylic can be found in construction of displays and signs.

Being of higher quality as compared to extruded acrylic, cell cast acrylic also tends to be more expensive. Pieces of mold that are usually made of glass are pressed to liquid plastic to make single sheet of acrylic. The sheets are then taken through a heating process resulting to stronger sheets compared to extruded acrylic. Objects that require great resistance to forces, such as aquariums, usually make use of this type of acrylic.

Misconceptions are often formed on acrylic. People tend to confuse it with low quality plastic that turns yellow, is brittle and breaks over time. However, this is not true for acrylic and if stored properly, acrylic can survive for decades. Also, if an acrylic is scratched, it can be buffered to remove the scratches and make it look new again. Despite the advantages of acrylic, it also contains certain disadvantages. It can melt when exposed to great amount of heat. It would eventually catch fire and this would release toxic fumes which are harmful to humans. Precautions should be taken when working with acrylic and the type of acrylic suitable for the job should be considered as it cannot be applied in every application.

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