Acrylic sheets are found in literally thousands of everyday products because of its many appealing characteristics. It provides minimal heat loss or temperature migration, it is easy to form, mold and cut and its clear, clean physical attractiveness make it an ideal material for signs, displays, and lighting applications. Although we probably see acrylic sheet in use on a daily basis, most of us know little about how it is made. Let’s take a closer look at the processes used to manufacture acrylic sheet.
How are Acrylic Sheets Manufactured• Acrylic sheet starts out in the form of an acrylic resin that looks a little bit like sugar or salt. It is poured into an extrusion machine where the resin is heated to a temperature that turns the resin into a molten, or liquid mass.
• The liquid is forced through an opening, or extruded, that is cut out in the profile required for a specific sheet. This cutout, or die, will define not only the thickness, length, and width of the sheet but will also influence the type of surface finish that the finished product will have.
• As the sheet exits the extruder, it passes over a series of cooling rollers that impress the final surface finish on the material while it cools and hardens into its final shape.• From this stage, the sheets can be trimmed to the final dimensions, fitted with hardware, or colored as required.
Acrylic Sheet – Flexible, Versatile & Economical
Acrylic in sheet form offers manufacturers, consumers and craftsmen one of the most accommodating and easy to work with materials available. Some of the ways acrylic sheet can be formed or shaped include:
- Cutting acrylic sheet. For thinner sheets under a ¼”, scoring and breaking is the quickest and safest method. Thicker sheets can be cut with table saws using blades that are specifically designed for acrylics. If it is desirable to cut shapes out of the sheet, a band or scroll saw is normally used. Routers can be used on the edges of acrylic sheet to trim and give the edge a finished look.
- Drilling holes in acrylic sheet is another common method of working with this material. A drill press is the best platform for drilling of acrylic. The key to successful drilling of holes in acrylic is using compressed air to cool the material, avoiding heat buildup that can lead to cracking or chipping.
- Acrylic is usually annealed after being cut, drilled, or formed. This prevents cracking and will ensure a longer service life.
Acrylic Sheet – Uses and Applications
There is no part of everyday modern life that is not touched by some form of acrylic sheet. Because acrylic is versatile and flexible, acrylic sheet can be formed and used in such diverse applications as light fixtures in your home or the display cases in the stores and malls we visit. Building, furniture, electronics and transportation equipment are just some of the many applications for this incredible material.View the video below on the process to cut acrylic sheets.