Acrylic is a type of plastic that derives its name from the chemical compound of which it is composed. It is made of clear, thermoplastic resins that are found in acrylic acid and natural sources like petroleum. Like all thermoplastics, acrylic becomes pliable when heated and rigid when cooled.
Acrylic resembles glass aesthetically, but is half its weight as well as being resistant to sun and salt damage. Other positive characteristics that make acrylic a desirable thermoplastic that buyers want to purchase are its excellent insulation and transparent nature, which is actually clearer then glass.
Acrylic is able to be cut in thick chunks while still being fully transparent, while glass cutting may be a much more varied and expensive process. Glass also develops a greenish tint when cut thick. Acrylic manufacturers can fabricate products in a diverse range of shapes. Stock shapes, including sheet, rod, tube, film and plate forms, are most common.
However, acrylic manufacturers often accept special and custom orders to fit any need. Acrylic can also refer to paints used by artists that contain acrylic resin. Acrylic paints are desirable because they can take on a variety of looks when diluted but become water-resistant when dry. Artists have been using acrylic paint since the 1950s. Sometimes the artworks created with these paints are called acrylics as well.
Other uses for acrylic plastics are wide spread and varied. Because of its favorable qualities, including its ability to be flawlessly shaped, acrylics are utilized by many industries. The fact that there are two major types of acrylics also provides buyers with a variance in price. The extruded process creates a softer and cheaper product, but this kind of acrylic also scratches easily and contains impurities.
The cell cast process generates a more expensive but higher quality acrylic material. Acrylic manufacturers would most likely use the cell cast process for more rugged applications or applications where aesthetics are important. For example, aquariums would probably use the cell cast acrylic, since they can have them seamlessly shaped through chemical welding, and require a sturdy and scratch resistant material to give viewers the best aquatic experience safely.
Homes and offices often have acrylic windows and sliding doors, while shower doors and skylights are also often made from the thermoplastic. Since windows and doors are essential to most industries, such as hospitals, manufacturing plants, commercial buildings and so forth, acrylic is pretty popular. Also, because acrylic that is one inch thick or thicker is bullet-proof, prisons and security construction companies and automotive shops all use acrylic for specialized products where safety is a concern.