How is Acrylic Made

While acrylic is a type of plastic, it can be more accurately likened to glass. When made properly, acrylic is perfectly clear and extremely durable, making it a great alternative to glass in a number of applications. The most common acrylics are sold under names like Plexiglas, Lucite, Perspex, and a number of other brands. While the myriad uses for acrylic are well-known, many wonder how this useful material is formed. As such, we wanted to spend some time describing how acrylic is made!

Acrylic Fabrication is proud to offer a variety of acrylic coffee tables and end tables to those seeking quality and clear furniture. Our furniture has less visual density, making any space look larger. You can also combine our acrylic products with old pieces to give a room an eclectic look. If you're interested in our acrylic furniture, we ship our products within one day! Otherwise, keep reading to learn more about acrylic.

How is Acrylic Manufactured?

Like all plastics, acrylics are polymers. A polymer is a material made up of a variety of molecules that are linked together like a chain. The resulting product is tough, highly transparent, and extremely resistant to ultraviolet radiation and weathering. To create these complex polymers, you need to undergo the difficult process of polymerization. When done correctly, the resulting polymer has no resemblance to the component parts that go into creating acrylic plastic.

Acrylic plastics are formed when you react a monomer (methyl methacrylate) with a catalyst. Organic peroxide is a pretty typical catalyst in this case. While the catalyst starts the reaction, it doesn't blend into the resulting polymer. Acrylic plastics are available in 3 forms:

  • Acrylic Plastic Sheets: Acrylic sheets are formed through a process called bulk polymerization. Acrylic sheets can be formed via batch cell polymerization, and the resulting acrylic sheets can be sized anywhere from .06 inches to 6 inches.
  • Elongated Shapes: Formed in a similar fashion to acrylic sheets, the polymerization can also take place in elongated shapes, like rods and tubes.
  • Molding Powder: Molding powders can be formed by a process known as suspension polymerization. The resulting "powder" comes in the form of tiny grains of polymer that can be molded or extruded.

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