What is the difference between Acrylic, Perspex and Plexiglas?
Absolutely nothing, they are all acrylic. Perspex® and Plexiglas® are simply brand names of acrylic. Just like Hoover is to a vacuum cleaner. Other popular brand names include Lucite®, Policril®, Altuglas® and many more.
The surface of the material is scratched and/or has a blue tint?
Plastic sheets are sent out with the original protective film on both sides, except for single sided materials. This is much like the protective film that is found on brand new mobile phone screens. It is there to protect the material from scratches whilst it is being worked with, for example if it is being cut, drilled, bent or laser cut.
When the film is still in place, the surface can appear damaged and for clear acrylic sometimes it will appear to be a blue or green tint. Simply remove the film from both sides and the brand new surface will be underneath. Sometimes it can be difficult to see therefore if you run your fingernail along an edge, this should enable you to pick up the film and remove it.
What is the difference between Cast acrylic and Extruded acrylic?
Cast acrylic and extruded acrylic are different however in many cases the differences do not particularly matter for the intended use. To give some background, acrylic sheet, rod and tube is manufactured by two methods, casting (cast) and extrusion (XT). It is generally difficult to differentiate between either type, especially with clear acrylic, however there are differences which anyone experienced with plastics will notice. The following is a list of some of the advantages and disadvantages between the two materials. These differences may or may not be relevant for your intended application and if you are still unsure, please feel free to let us know your intended use and we will do our best to suggest which would be most suitable.
Extruded acrylic has a consistent thickness throughout the sheet with a tolerance of just +/-3%. Cast acrylic has a poor thickness tolerance at over +/- 10% and can also vary over the sheet.
Extruded acrylic is more liable to 'stress craze' whereas cast acrylic has a better chemical resistance when exposed to solvents and other chemicals.
Extruded acrylic has a narrow elastic range however when heated the shrinkage is not bi-linear. Cast acrylic has a wider elastic range however shrinks up to 2% when heated.
Cast acrylic is better suited for laser cutting however some lasers are still able to laser cut extruded. Mirror acrylic, for example, is an extruded acrylic and tends to be left with a sharp edge (rather than softened) when laser cut. We would always advise to test the material if you are unsure and always follow the advice from the laser manufacturer.
Cast acrylic is available in a much wider range of colours, finishes and thicknesses. Extruded acrylic is cheaper to manufacture when produced in large quantities therefore you will generally only see extruded acrylic readily available in clear, black and white/opal variants.
What is the difference between acrylic, polycarbonate and PETG?
Acrylic and polycarbonate are two very different materials and your intended use will determine which of the two would be most suitable. Acrylic is more widely used as it is a much more versatile material and available in a vast range of colours and finishes. Polycarbonate’s main feature is that it is virtually unbreakable. Polycarbonate is mostly utilised when strength or a fire rating is required. There is only a small colour choice of clear, opal and a few tints and polycarbonate has a softer surface therefore can scratch easier than acrylic. PETG is available in a similar form as polycarbonate and, in many applications, can be interchangeable. PETG is not as tough as polycarbonate however both have similar fire ratings. These differences may or may not be relevant for your intended application and if you are still unsure, feel free to let us know your intended use and we will do our best to suggest which would be most suitable.
Will plastic turn yellow over time?
The simple answer is yes however the timeframe for this varies greatly from material to material and even manufacturer to manufacturer. Acrylic will resist yellowing for approximately 10 years (Perspex®) or 30 years (Plexiglas®) whereas other plastics like polycarbonate, petg and styrene will turn yellow much quicker.
Can I use acrylic for windows and secondary glazing?
Acrylic benefits from excellent thermal and acoustic properties and is also lightweight and strong, this makes it an is an ideal choice for secondary glazing. Whilst either extruded or cast can be used for this application, Plexiglas® extruded acrylic carries a 30 year Manufacturer's guarantee from yellowing.
Can I use the material outdoors?
Acrylic, polycarbonate, petg, foam pvc and aluminium composite are all weather resistant materials and are perfectly fine for outdoor applications.
I am using acrylic for splashbacks, can I use this behind my cooker or hob?
Acrylic will look great as a splashback in a kitchen or bathroom however we do not advise the use of acrylic behind cookers or hobs. A heat source over 60°C can cause distortion although, the Plexiglas® Hi-Gloss range does have a higher resistance to heat and therefore could be used behind a hob providing the following conditions are met:
- The distance between the outer edge of a ceramic hob and the wall must be at least 60mm.
- Distance between the outer edge of a gas hob and the wall must be at least 200mm.
- The constant temperature remains equal to or below 105°C.
If you are using an acrylic not of the Hi-Gloss range or you can not meet the conditions for Hi-Gloss, we would suggest using a different material just for the section behind your hob or cooker. We find many customers use this as an opportunity to contrast colours.
How do I cut acrylic?
Acrylic can be cut by using an electric jigsaw with a T101A Bosch blade (or equivalent) and be sure to only apply light pressure. You will also need to ensure the material is securely clamped down to avoid vibration which can cause the material to crack. Alternatively, why not use our online calculators which allows you to order square, rectangular, round, oval and shaped panels.
How do I drill acrylic?
To drill acrylic, we would recommend you use a specialist drill bit made for plastic. You will also need to ensure the material is securely clamped to avoid vibration which can cause the material to crack. Alternatively, use our online calculators which will allow you to add holes to your sheet and we will do it for you.
How do I glue acrylic?
Bonding acrylic to a wall/tiles
To bond acrylic to a wall or over existing tiles, you can use a ‘solvent free’ adhesive such as Siroflex Mighty Strength Grip and Grab which is available here or an equivalent (for example solvent free NoNails). If bonding over existing gloss tiles, give the tiles a quick go over with sandpaper to roughen up the surface to improve the bond.
Bonding acrylic to acrylic
There are several adhesives available which can be found here. The choice will depend on whether you are bonding extruded or cast and whether you require a waterproof bond.
How do I clean my plastic?
Plastic material is sensitive to many different chemicals which are found in everyday household products. You can clean your items with a soft cloth (we recommend a soft microfibre cloth), a mild soap solution (dishwashing liquid) and lukewarm water. Apply only light pressure and only use a clean cloth to prevent surface scratches. For extra clean and shine, you can use a cleaner which is specifically recommended for use with plastics like Vuplex™ Plastic Anti-Static Cleaner which is available here.
Never use the same cloth that you clean other household items with. There may be remaining residue and chemicals which can damage the plastic. Do not use window cleaner, alcohol or ammonia products (commonly used in many all-purpose household cleaners), chemical sprays, solvents, thinners or abrasive cleaners. These products can cause a variety of problems including but not limited to, the plastic going cloudy/opaque, stress crazing and surface scratching. Do not use abrasive pads, stiff brushes, paint scrapers or razor blades. Even paper towels may cause slight surface scratches. Do not apply any adhesive tape direct to the surface or edges of plastic material as this will be difficult to remove and will cause damage. Do not use polythene products including cling film and polybags as they may cause surface crazing. This list is by no means every item which can cause damage to the material therefore it is essential to always check a product’s suitability before use.
What are your cutting tolerances?
Our standard cutting tolerance is +/- 1mm.
What are the standard industry thickness tolerances?
Cast acrylic sheet has a thickness tolerance of +/-10% + 0.4mm
Extruded acrylic sheet has a thickness tolerance of +/-3%
Polycarbonate sheet has a thickness tolerance of +/-5%
Extruded acrylic tube has a diameter tolerance of +/-2% and a wall thickness tolerance of +/-20%
Extruded acrylic rod diameter tolerances:
10mm: +/- 0.7mm
15mm: +/- 0.9mm
20mm: +/- 1.0mm
25mm: +/- 1.2mm
30mm: +/- 1.4mm
40mm: +/- 2.0mm
50mm: +/- 2.5mm