Acrylics are polymers that are widely used due to their diverse applications and resilience. They are highly versatile materials used for a plethora of purposes, from artistic mediums to practical items such as protective screens, signs, and even medical devices. However, not all acrylics are created equal. There are two primary types of acrylics: extruded acrylic and cast acrylic. This article aims to elucidate the main differences between these two kinds of acrylic.

Understanding Acrylic

Commonly known as Perspex in the UK, acrylic is a type of plastic that is clear and lightweight but also very robust. Known for its transparency and its resistance to impact, it’s a popular choice for applications where glass could pose a danger. It’s also used extensively in signage and display due to its ability to be easily cut, moulded, and coloured.

Extruded Acrylic

Extruded acrylic, also known as continuous cast acrylic, is produced through a manufacturing process where the liquid acrylic monomer is pushed through a form, then cooled and trimmed. This type of acrylic is less expensive to produce, and consequently, it’s more affordable for the end consumer.

Extruded acrylic tends to have a softer surface, which might scratch more easily. However, it has fewer impurities, resulting in a clearer material. It’s also more consistent in thickness, making it a popular choice for large applications. A key drawback, though, is that it’s more vulnerable to cracking when cut or drilled.

Cast Acrylic

On the other hand, cast acrylic is manufactured through a process where the liquid acrylic is poured into a mould and then cooled. The moulding process allows for a wider range of shapes and sizes but also makes it more expensive to produce.

Cast acrylic is more resistant to scratching and tends to be stronger overall. While it might not be as clear as extruded acrylic due to the presence of small impurities, it’s more resistant to heat and chemicals. It also machines well, meaning it can be cut and drilled without the risk of cracking or splintering, making it ideal for intricate designs and detailed works.

Additionally, cast acrylic offers superior optical clarity and higher light transmittance compared to extruded acrylic. The process also results in a wider choice of colours and finishes, adding to its attractiveness for designers and fabricators.

Making The Right Choice

When deciding between cast and extruded acrylic, one must consider the project’s requirements. If a task demands a high level of precision, resilience to scratching, and heat resistance, cast acrylic is the best choice. However, for projects needing large amounts of material, where affordability and clarity are the primary concerns, extruded acrylic might be more appropriate.

Companies such as Simply Plastics offer a wide range of both cast and extruded acrylic products, allowing customers to find the right material for their specific needs.

Conclusion

Understanding the difference between cast and extruded acrylic is key to making an informed decision about which material to use for a particular application. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and choosing the right one depends on the specific requirements of the project at hand.

While extruded acrylic offers a cost-effective solution with clear visuals, cast acrylic provides superior strength, scratch resistance, and heat tolerance, proving its worth in more intricate and demanding applications. By understanding these differences, you can choose the right acrylic product for your project.

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