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What is Acrylic?

Are you familiar with laser cutting acrylic? Acrylic is a material that is made up of acrylic acids. These acids are organic, and they happen to have the base amount of unsaturated carboxylic acid. The acids are usually transparent (roughly 92% transparent). When you go to make thick pieces of glass, the glass has a tendency to take on a slight green shade. This never happens with acrylic, no matter how thick the piece is. The fact that acrylic can become glass-like makes it a great option for products that would other wise be using glass. Acrylic, once harden, is substantially stronger than glass. Many different products (products that people use every day) are made with acrylic laser cutting. You can find shower doors, windows, and also smaller products like tableware and jeweler. There are many benefits of using acrylic over glass. Items should be made with acrylic if they are supposed to be made stronger and more durable. For example, an acrylic plate might not shatter when it hits the floors, where as a glass plate would definitely break. Another benefit of acrylic is that is weighs substantially less than glass does. This allows for bigger pieces to be made and transported. Usually acrylic is made in two ways. The two processes are called extruded and cast.

Extruded Acrylic- This type of acrylic is usually more common than the other, and this is because you get a great product relatively inexpensively (at least in comparison to the price of cast acrylic). This acrylic is made through forcing the liquid plastic through rollers that form sheets. The cooled sheets are softer and can scratch more easily than casted acrylic. This piece would then go to acrylic laser cutting for the final product.

Cast Acrylic- This type of acrylic is more expensive, but it is for very good reasons. If you were looking to make a strong piece of plastic then this would be your best bet. For instance, an aquarium would only consider cast acrylic, and that is for the strength of the product. The product is made by pressing plastic between two presses, as opposed to pushing it through rollers. The presses are usually made out of glass, and that is so melted plastic doesn't stick to the surfaces of the press. Cast acrylic would be what you want if you know you will be shaping or machining a final product.

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