Properties of Acrylic Sheets (The Value of Plastic Products)
By Amy Nutt
Have you ever looked at something made of plastic and wondered how it was made? It's obviously not a metal, wood or plant based derivative. To the educated person, it could be assumed that it's made by a chemical process, but not much more about it is as easily surmised. Clearly, acrylic thermoplastics have some very interesting characteristics and properties. Of course, they are well known for their crystal clarity and outstanding weather ability. But did you also know they are available in cast sheet, rod, and tube, extruded sheet and film, and compounds for injection molding and extrusion? Acrylic can be used to manufacture brochure holders, racks, counter displays, donation / suggestion boxes and point of purchase (p.o.p) displays among other products.
Below are some general properties of acrylic sheet:
• Strong and resists weathering
• Flexible when compared with glass
• Less breakable than glass
• Abrasion resistant
• Can withstand sunlight for long durations
• Resistant to most chemicals and industrial fumes
• Can transmit or filter ultraviolet light
• Can be cleaned easily
• Can be cut by various methods
• Corrosion resistant
• Good insulator.
Other general properties include the ability to transmit and control light. They are also stable against discoloration, and have superior dimensional stability, as you would notice if you have an acrylic brochure display, counter display, donation / suggestion box or point of purchase (p.o.p) display. Possessing an excellent combination of structural and thermal properties, clear acrylic plastic is as transparent as the finest optical glass:
• Possess a light transmittance of 92%
• Low haze level of approximately 1%
• Index of refraction of 1.49
It also has the ability to be injected with color, producing a full spectrum of transparent, translucent, or opaque colors depending on your needs. This process does no harm in terms of long-term durability; colored acrylics can be used outdoors for a long time. Why? They are formulated to filter ultraviolet energy in the 360-nm and lower band. Other acrylic formulations are opaque to UV light or provide reduced UV transmission.
And how about mechanical properties? Although not known for having many, acrylics can be used for short-term loading. If the intended use is long-term, stresses must be limited to 1,500 psi to avoid surface cracking and deterioration.
Acrylic does well in the cold, as the impact resistance of standard formulations is maintained in these conditions. It should be noted that high-impact acrylic grades have greater impact strength than standard grades at room temperature, but impact strength decreases as temperature drops. Some types of acrylic are even known to resist bullets!
Acrylic plastics are highly scratch resistant, especially among other thermoplastics. It's a good idea, however, to ensure proper maintenance and cleaning. Keep in mind that abrasion-resistant acrylic sheet is available and has the same optical and impact properties as standard grades. You will see this in many of our brochure displays, racks, counter displays, donation / suggestion boxes and point of purchase (p.o.p) displays.
This brings up a good point - its versatility and adaptability. Are you aware that Jet-aircraft cabin windows are made from acrylic sheet? They do this by inducing molecular orientation during forming. This proves the potential strength of acrylic sheet. How do they react to other chemicals and compounds? Acrylic sheet and moldings resist solutions of inorganic acids and alkalies and aliphatic hydrocarbons such as VM&P naphtha, as well as most detergent solutions and cleaning agents. They are attacked by chlorinated and aromatic hydrocarbons, esters, and ketones.
Acrylic sheets are extremely durable and have weather resistant properties. They can be cleaned very easily and thus are excellent for making poster frames and sign holders.