Acrylic vs. Plexiglass: What Are Their Differences?

The terms acrylic and plexiglass are often used interchangeably. Although these two materials look similar, there are some differences between them.

What is Acrylic?

Acrylic is a material made of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), which is a kind of plastic. It is often used in sheet form as an alternative to glass.

Although acrylic sheets can be more expensive than glass, it is still preferred by organizations and professionals because it is stronger and more shatter-resistant. This material is also mostly invulnerable to erosion and the elements.

clear plexiglass signage posted on a wall

What is Plexiglass?

The word plexiglass came from the brand Plexiglas®. The relationship of these terms is similar to that of tissue and Kleenex, as well as photocopy and Xerox. Simply speaking, plexiglass came from a brand name that has become the term used to refer to a specific product or service.

Difference Between Acrylic and Plexiglas®

Acrylic and Plexiglas® are mostly similar. The biggest difference between these materials is their manufacturing process. Generic acrylic can be manufactured using the extrusion or cell casting process.

Extruded acrylic is produced by heating liquid polymer and extruding it through a series of rollers. These rollers provide the acrylic sheet with texture and gauge until fully formed.

Cast acrylic, on the other hand, is manufactured by pumping liquid monomers into a glass mold. It is then dipped in warm water to start the process of polymerization.

While acrylic sheets can be manufactured using any of the two processes listed above, Plexiglas® can only be manufactured using cell casting. This process allows the product to have a wider range of thickness, be more lightweight and rigid, and have a greater resistance to sunlight and weathering.

acrylic shield guard used as a barrier

History of Acrylic and Plexiglas®

In the early 1900s, Otto Röhm was trying to increase the resistance of glass. As he was creating a lamination between glass plates, he accidentally created acrylic, which is the same material we are using nowadays.

A variety of products were manufactured after the creation of acrylic, one of which was trademarked Plexiglas® in 1933. As the brand became more popular, the term Plexiglas® has evolved into plexiglass and has become synonymous with the word acrylic. This is why acrylic and plexiglass are often interchanged.

As the need for acrylic or plexiglass evolved, more products using this material have emerged. Nowadays, to address the need for social distancing in offices, restaurants, and other establishments, acrylic shield guards have been used more often. These products are utilized to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep employees and customers safe at all times.

Obtain High-Quality Acrylic Products Today

Whether acrylic, plexiglass, or Plexiglas®, this material is an effective alternative to glass that can also help you implement social distancing in different areas. For durable acrylic products, turn to none other than Limkaco Industries.

We offer protective acrylic shields in varying sizes and thicknesses. You can also count on us to help you install your new acrylic shield anywhere you need it. Contact us today for more information.

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