Plexiglas and acrylic are synthetic alternatives to glass. But Plexiglass is too expensive for many people. Here’s why and where to buy cheap Plexiglass sheets.
Plexiglas is perhaps the most coveted synthetic glass. But it has one con- it is costly! The majority of glass and home interior designers often like the elegance of this material, but the price is a put-off. It is usually shiny and transparent like glass but sturdier and more durable than the standard glass. In this post, you’ll learn why Plexiglass is so expensive, the alternatives and where you can buy cheap varieties.
Acrylic and Plexiglas
Understanding plexiglass takes us back to its mother compound- acrylic. The history of acrylics dates back to 1933 when Otto Rohm was trying to experiment with the lamination of two glass plates. He intended to increase their resistance. Instead, he “accidentally” created a new material that looked like glass.
Otto Rohm then patented Plexiglas in 1936 under his plastic manufacturing company. Even today, acrylic sheets are still useful due to their bending, milling, and hot forming qualities. Acrylic sheets come in several forms, and Plexi-glass is one of them. Its scientific polymer name is poly (methyl methacrylate)- which is often abbreviated as PMMA. In classification, the glass is a transparent thermoplastic.
The petroleum-based plastic is amorphous and non-crystalline, which is the result of a cooling inorganic liquid compound that hasn’t crystallized. So, unlike other acrylic compounds, Plexi has a uniform, transparent mixture that earns it the “glass” attribute.
The plastic glass is transparent due to the absence of granules and particles in its composition.
The cell cast acrylic is purer than other acrylics. This gives it a shiny, glassy look.
Plexiglas is the brand name, but the material is often called Plexiglass. In simple terms, it refers to cell cast acrylic polymers such as Lucite and Acrylic. If you intend to buy the right synthetic glass, then you should not enter a store to simply order acrylic or Plexiglass. Instead, go for names such as extruded acrylic or cell cast acrylic.
Ordinary acrylic sheets are quite different from the Plexiglas. The latter has a harder surface than the former, which makes it ideal for use as a glass. It is also more resistant to solvents, solvents and other adhesive chemicals than other members of the acrylic family. The acrylic compounds are ordinarily soft and thus ideally used for gluing materials together.
Most acrylic plastics have a shelf life of about seven to ten years. This means that they will not fade or get discolored easily and you are covered by the warranty. However, it’s usually not easy for the materials to hit a decade. Plexiglass materials often fade and discolor far quickly if you expose them to solvent chemicals such as ammonia and alcohol for a long time.
Also, if you live in areas with high humidity and the salty environment- such as beaches-, you will notice the material fading sooner than the warranty states. Make sure to find plastic glasses with hard surfaces, as they are more resistant to these factors.
Plexiglas versus Glass
While glass is brittle and transparent and usually consists of silica material, the Plexi-glass is a soft inorganic compound.
Most glass surfaces reflect light more readily than acrylic surfaces. Sometimes, the traditional glass produces unwanted reflections. So, the majority of aquariums are made of Plexiglas due to its strength and ability to allow penetration of light.
Standard glass is often more affordable than the acrylic. Of course, glass prices depend on size, thickness, and customizations. Yet, Plexi prices beat the silica glass due to its ability to the UV coatings and enhancements. When you consider the maintenance and erosion of both materials, Plexiglass is cheaper than regular glass.
Plexiglass is better at withstanding shatter than ordinary glass. Glass is basically a frozen liquid of amorphous material that shatters easily. Acrylic thermoplastics are softer than glass which means they can bend instead of breaking.
Plexiglass is versatile in that you can cut it into any shape you want. Glass, on the contrary, is a little more challenging to shape. The former is lighter than the latter, which makes it convenient for transportation and installation.
However, the plexiglass reacts with solvents and other cleaning agents which cause scratches.
Why Plexiglass is Expensive
In most cases, the process of manufacturing acrylic plastics is the reason for the high cost of Plexiglas sheets. Making the synthetic material involves either the cell cast or the extrusion method. Extrusion is less expensive, but; it often produces softer plastics that are prone to scratches. Also, the extrusion plastics are likely to have surface impurities.
On the other hand, cell cast varieties have hard surfaces. The cell cast forms in a closed area, and this reduces contact with impurities. The closed process increases the cost of production and, inevitably, the price of Plexiglass sheets. Again, the use of petrochemicals in the manufacture and recycling of Plexiglass escalates its cost.
Top Benefits of Plexiglass Sheeting
Panes have dominated the construction of windows for several years. But, the conventional methods are quickly coming to a stop mainly due to the euphoria of Plexiglas. The material is durable and more efficient than ordinary glass which makes it far better for windows. Here are some of the benefits of acrylic sheeting:
If you want superior strength for your windows, then you should consider using Plexiglass. The material shatters at almost 20 times more impact than glass. Also, no one gets injured when the sheeting breaks because it requires a lot of force to do that. And, even if it would break, the plastic would not hurt anyone as much as glass would do.
Easy to Cut
You do not need a diamond blade to cut through acrylic plastics. A table saw is enough to cut Plexiglass to your favorite shapes and sizes. This allows you to employ your creativity and art in making ideal furniture or sheeting designs.
Plexiglass sheeting is clear and allows more than 90 percent of light to penetrate; which means it’s more transparent than conventional glass. That’s why glass reflects more light than this acrylic compound. You can look at thick glass panes to notice a different color which shows it is not entirely transparent.