From acrylic paints, acrylic windows and counters to acrylic nails, acrylic is everywhere these days – but what exactly is acrylic? It is a term used for products that contain a substance derived from acrylic acid or a related compound. This transparent synthetic material is also known as polyacrylate.
High-quality acrylic is also sometimes known as Lucite (Perspex) or Plexiglass (Acrylite). Some other trade names under which acrylic is marketed include Policril, Gavrieli, Vitroflex, Limacryl, R-Cast, Per-Clax, Plazcryl, Acrylex, Acrylplast, Altuglas, Polycast, Oroglass, and Optix.
Acrylic has a wide range of possible end uses. It can be painted with, obviously, acrylic paint; it can be reflected or made opaque.
This type of plastic fiber is used for thousands of products in many industries. It can be made into products as varied as yarn, fabric, windows (including airplane windows), public aquarium display tanks, shower doors, bath screens, and skylights.
It combines strength and aesthetics. It is transparent like glass, but only half as heavy as glass: it is many times stronger, impact resistant and therefore safer than glass. It also insulates better than glass. Still, it is more expensive than glass.
Acrylic can be made into sheets – a thick enough piece of acrylic sheet can be bulletproof! No matter how thick it is, the acrylic remains transparent. It is very durable and withstands the elements longer than other plastics.
It can be perfectly molded and glued, and scratches can be easily polished off. It can be cut, sawed and drilled. That makes it ideal for interior and exterior design purposes.
Acrylic is thermoplastic, which means it will soften at high temperatures, but it won’t melt until it reaches 160 degrees Celsius. It is not necessary to keep acrylic items out of the sun as they are completely inert in solid form and will not yellow in sunlight, but it is not recommended to place them near an open flame or hot surface. Burnt acrylic releases toxic fumes.
The price of acrylic is directly related to the price of oil, because it is derived from natural gas. Since it is a petroleum based product, petroleum solvents and chemicals should be avoided to avoid marking it.
Acrylic is very easy to care for: a normal cleaning with a cloth is enough to keep it looking new. It is important to avoid scratches and chemicals.