Cast Acrylic & Extruded Acrylic
The key differences between these types of acrylic stem from the method used in manufacturing. Extruded acrylic is made by extruding acrylic polymer over long production runs, whereas cast acrylic is made by casting the acrylic resin into a mould. Therefore cast acrylic is less uniform in thickness than extruded acrylic, however it displays greater thermal stability and can be reworked hot. It also has better impact resistance than extruded acrylic, and is less prone to developing cracks when exposed to solvents.
Extruded acrylic sheeting is a more economical option than cast acrylic, and has more advantages when it comes to vacuum forming making it a great general purpose sheeting. However it has limitations in its ability to be machined and fabricated.
Extruded acrylic sheet has reduced mechanical properties, however it does give process advantages when heating, bending and vacuum forming, and has a better thickness tolerance than cast acrylic sheet. Extruded sheets are ideal for general glazing applications and the much lower viscosity when hot, makes it more ductile than Cast Acrylic.
Cast Acrylic sheets offer greater thermal stability and better resistance to crazing when exposed to solvents. The thermoforming range for cast sheets is wider. They can be reworked hot, which is not always possible with extruded sheets. The surface finish, flatness and optical properties of Cast Acrylic are all superior to those of Extruded Acrylic sheets.
Polycarbonate & PETG
Polycarbonate is a very tough and versatile form of plastic sheeting, less easy to work and fabricate than acrylic, though superior in terms of impact resistance. PETG also has a high impact resistance, and is more economical than polycarbonate, although it has a lower superficial hardness. Polycarbonate is unmatched for high strength and resistance to pressure, however it is more susceptible to scratching.
If you are unsure as to what type of plastic sheeting will suit your needs, please contact us and we will be happy to offer any advice you require.
Acrylic sheet will soften if it reaches temperatures of over 80°C, so it is very important to take measures to keep the temperature at a minimum when machining or manipulating the acrylic. Water and water/air mists, compressed air and soluble oils are all suitable for use as coolants, however take care to ensure oils do not contain solvents as these may damage the acrylic.
Diamond polishing is recommended when you require a clean and professional finish to the edges of your acrylic. It is achieved when the edges of the sheet are moved over very sharp fast-rotating diamonds, however please note it is only suitable for straight-edged acrylic and not round-edged shapes.
Diamond polishing removes around 2mm of material from the sheet, please account for this when ordering.
For very thin acrylic sheets a scriber or blade may be used, in the same way you would cut glass. Draw the scriber several times across the sheet along a straight edge, then hold or clamp the sheet firmly, apply a downward pressure and snap the sheet along the seam.
If your sheet is thicker, fine-toothed handsaws are recommended for smaller jobs, the acrylic should be securely clamped and only light pressure applied. Power saws with alternate bevelled teeth are suitable, especially band saws, jig saws and fret saws. Blades designed to cut aluminium or copper are appropriate for use with acrylic. Should you not wish to cut the sheeting yourself, we are happy to cut your plastic sheet at only a small cost.
Acrylic sheet is easy to saw when the correct tools are employed please see below for tools that are adequate.
Yes, use a metal drill bit on a medium speed and don’t apply too much pressure. Drilling too quickly may crack or damage the plastic due to the generation of heat. If possible, drilling from both sides of the sheet to break through it is recommended.
Drilling acrylic is easy to do but please note the following points to avoid the pitfalls:
If you would rather we drilled your acrylic for you, we are happy to do so at only a small cost.
Threading acrylic is possible but it is not recommended if frequent assembling/disassembling is likely. A sure way to prevent damage to your acrylic sheet when screwing to a surface is to use wall plugs and screws, which can be found in the ‘Panel Mountings, Fixing & Accessories’ sections of our website.
Yes, there are many options for gluing acrylic, but it largely depends on what material it is being affixed to. Acrylic cements come in a variety of types and thicknesses, thinner cements will offer seamless joining, but will not fill voids as thicker cements will. Superglue and similar adhesives may provoke a chemical reaction with acrylic that will damage your sheet, latex glues (e.g. Copydex) are a good choice, but your local builders’ merchant will be able to offer advice on which adhesive to use. Nevertheless please be sure to read and follow the material safety data manual before bonding.
Acrylic sheeting achieves a UK Class 3 fire rating. Polycarbonate has a Class 1 fire rating which makes it highly recommended for use in schools and hospitals.
100mm x 100mm is the smallest standard size we offer.
Our largest sheet size is 2 metres x 3 metres but this is not available for all materials. Our instant price calculator will tell you the maximum size we can supply for any particular material or thickness.
Sure, on our Request a Sample page you can choose up to three materials to sample from. We will charge you £5.00+VAT for the service (there’s no delivery charge), and we will reimburse this charge to you should you go on to make an order from the same account of over £50.00.
The weather resistance of acrylic cannot be matched by any other transparent plastic material. Many years of outdoor exposure in a variety of applications have proved the excellent weather resistance of this material.
Yes, colourless acrylic is a total white light transmittance of 92%, which is the highest possible of any material. It is as transparent as the finest optical glass.
Yes, we accept returns within 7 days of receipt, however bespoke items may not be returned unless they are clearly faulty. Please see our Refund Policy for all details on our returns and complaints procedures.
No. Temperatures of over 60°C will affect acrylic, so it is not suitable for use in close proximity to heatsources. A popular solution is to protect the acrylic splashback directly behind the heat source with a sheet of toughened glass.
Yes, acrylic is very strong and lightweight, making it perfect for use as secondary glazing. Acrylic of 3mm+ is ideal, but thickness should be increased for larger panels. Please contact us should you need any further advice.
2mm is the standard thickness that we advertise, however larger panels should go up to 3mm depending on how well they are supported in the frame.
3mm for smaller panels, but for larger (approx. 600mm+) panels 5mm should be used.
Yes, however they have to be very well sealed. It is also worth considering the care that should be taken when cleaning acrylic.
Melamine faced chipboard is a wood based material made by compressing wood chips or shavings into a board and coating it with melamine-impregnated paper. It is an extremely strong and durable material, available in a variety of finishes from wood grain to metallic. It is and ideal material for building furniture.
Yes, in terms of its reflective properties mirrored plastic is just as good as glass. Of course it has many other benefits in terms of its strength (especially with regards to mirrored polycarbonate) and light weight. If safety is an issue, then our mirrored sheets are ideal as they will not shatter as glass will. They are suitable for use in stables, gyms, dance studios, schools, prisons and other public areas.
If the mirror you require is over 1 metre then we would suggest Dibond aluminium composite mirrors. They are stronger than acrylic and are less prone to bending and distortion of the image, but are still incredibly lightweight.
Yes! Foamex is extremely printer-friendly and it achieves fantastic results when printing both images and text. It is also highly weather resistant, making it suitable for a variety of signage and outdoor advertising.
Acrylic is very simple to care for if you take care with it. All that is needed is a soft cloth, warm water and a small amount of washing up liquid. The soap doesn’t just clean the sheet, it will act as a lubricant to stop small amounts of dirt scratching the acrylic as you clean. You may wish to moisten the sheet with water before you begin to wipe with the cloth to soften and lift the dirt from the surface. Once you are satisfied it is clean, rinse off the detergent with cold water and leave to dry.
Avoid using the following products:
Using any of the above is completely unnecessary and may damage the surface of the acrylic or make it cloudy. Additionally, scouring pads or other abrasive materials should never be used to clean your acrylic sheet.
If the scratches are light, we stock Xerapol acrylic scratch remover polish which is ideal for use on all of our cut acrylic. A small amount will buff out imperfections in the surface of your acrylic sheet leaving you with a shine again.
Larger and deeper scratches may be sanded out with a very fine sandpaper and buffed with a high quality polish, but we recommend that caution is taken. Please contact us should you need any advice with the maintenance of your acrylic sheet.