Acrylic glass, recognized by its popular names like Plexiglas, Perspex, Deglas, or Senocryl, belongs to a unique category of plastic known as Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA).
Acrylic undergoes two distinct manufacturing methods: cast or extrude. While CO2 lasers can effectively process both types of acrylic glass, each manufacturing process necessitates specific material properties.
Differences between Cast Acrylic and Extruded Acrylic:
Cast acrylic is created by pouring liquid mass into molds, leading to subsequent polymer cross-linking that generates a uniform, stress-free material with superior strength, durability, and exceptional surface quality. Its production process, more intricate than that of extruded acrylic, contributes to its higher cost.
On the other hand, extruded acrylic is formed by extruding molten acrylic granules. The polymer structure's cross-linking is less pronounced, resulting in reduced mechanical strength and chemical resistance compared to cast acrylic.
The manufacturing process results in varying thickness tolerance. For instance, cast acrylic may have a tolerance of around ±15%, a crucial factor in certain applications like connectors. In contrast, extruded acrylic sheets typically maintain a narrower tolerance of +/- 5%.
When laser cutting cast acrylic, it creates smooth edges on both sides without any burrs. However, cutting extruded acrylic with a laser might result in burrs forming along the cut edge.
Cast acrylic deforms uniformly and effectively when exposed to heat, displaying consistent properties in all directions. On the other hand, while extruded acrylic is also easily thermally deformed, differences in deformation properties might arise based on whether it's aligned longitudinally or transversely to the direction of extrusion.
Cast acrylic generally offers better scratch and chemical resistance compared to extruded acrylic. Specifically, cast acrylic boasts an excellent surface, demonstrating even greater scratch and chemical resistance.
Cast Acrylic is versatile. It is primarily used when high quality is the main focus. Popular applications are indoors and outdoors:
Furniture and interior design
Shop and exhibition construction
Special individual items for interior use such as vases, lamps or statues
Extruded acrylic is cheaper to purchase and is therefore suitable for series production:
Models and pluggable applications (due to the low thickness tolerances)
Interior and exterior signs