Plexiglass is used in a wide variety of different projects. In this article we will talk about the different types of plexiglass, what they are used for and what you need to know about them. Let’s get started.
Are There Different Types of Plexiglass?
The answer to this question is yes and no. Plexiglass is actually an acrylic sheet material made by the Rohm and Haas Company in 1938. Rohm and Haas (R&H) wanted a clear plastic that had more strength than glass but comparable optical qualities. The generic term “Plexiglas” refers to plexiglass manufactured by any company or maker other than R&H, but the product sold by R&H is still just called “Plexiglas.” Nowadays there are several different companies that manufacture their own version of plexiglass under various trade names such as Optix, Lucite, Altuglas, Acrylite or XENOY.
What Is Plexiglass?
Plexiglass is an acrylic sheet material made by the Rohm and Haas Company in 1938. Plexiglass is actually just one type of acrylic composed of many similar acrylates. Plexiglass has a number of common trade names including Lucite, Acrylite, Altuglas, Optix and XENOY. Plexiglass has become an incredibly popular material for a variety of purposes because of its low cost, ease of fabrication and relatively high impact resistance. Plexiglass is a tough material that withstands the force generated by a bullet traveling at a velocity less than 1,400 feet per second.
In general terms, there are many different types of acrylic materials available from several manufacturers that all use the naming conventions associated with plexiglass even though they may not be actually composed from polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). In fact, several other types of plastics have been created over the years which were inspired by PMMA but did not necessarily evolve from it to become an acrylic polymer.
What Is Plexiglass Used For?
History of Plexiglass “Plexiglas” was first patented by Rohm and Haas in 1928 under the name “Perspex”, but it didn’t start being manufactured until 1933. It has been used for a variety of applications ever since, starting with aircraft canopies during World War II. According to the National Museum of American History, plexiglass is also known as acrylic glass or polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). The material is often referred to as plexiglass instead of acrylic although this may be incorrect.
Today it’s widely used in numerous products that provide safety, protection, visibility and energy efficiency. Plexiglass is used in automobile windows and windshields, in architecture and building design and in lighting fixtures. It’s also used to make aquarium tanks, where it provides a safe habitat for fish and other aquatic lifeforms.
The US Geological Survey says that plexiglass is made up of at least 70 percent acrylonitrile, which is a colorless liquid hydrocarbon that turns into a solid plastic when combined with polymers such as polymethyl methacrylate. Plexiglass can be transparent or opaque depending on the formulation used.
Three Types of Plexiglass
There are three types of plexiglass: cast, extruded and sheet stock. The type of sheet material you need depends on what you need it for and how large your finished project will be. There is no definitive answer to which type of material is best.
1) Cast plexiglass has the slowest machining speed and it tends to be more expensive than sheet or extruded plexiglass. It also creates a lot of waste when machined. However, cast stock comes in many shapes and sizes, whereas sheet and extruded material is limited in size (32 feet by 48 inches).
2) Extruded plexiglass has faster machining speeds than cast, but it’s still expensive compared with sheet. Also, because extruded material remains somewhat pliable even after being cut, there are some mistakes that can’t be fixed easily if at all. It does have good weather resistance though.
3) Sheet plexiglass is the option used in most plexiglass cutting applications. It’s the least expensive type of all three types of plexiglass, but it can crack easily in cold temperatures or if mishandled. The machining is fast and safe though, making sheet the best choice for high volume applications.