What is Acrylic?
"Acrylic" is actually the shortened term for acrylic resin, which is "a glassy acrylic thermoplastic made by polymerizing acrylic or methacrylic acid or a derivative of either and used for cast and molded parts (as of medical prostheses and dental appliances) or as coatings and adhesives" according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
There are two main types of acrylic: extruded and cast.
Extruded acrylic is made by pushing the plastic through rollers, and can be made into long, continuous sheets. This is often the type of acrylic you see in supermarket displays. It is softer, easier to scratch and has a lower clarity than cast acrylic. But, it is also less expensive than cast acrylic.
Cell cast (or "cast") acrylic is pressed instead of rolled and goes through a more gradual heating process. It is made in molds of a certain size, so cannot be made into long, continuous sheets. It is stronger, clearer and harder to scratch than extruded acrylic. We use only cell cast acrylic in our vivarium manufacture because it is a higher quality material, reduces the risk of crazing, and increases the durability and life span of our products.
Features of Acrylic:
- good weather resistance
- high clarity (higher than glass)
- high impact resistance (higher than glass)
- lighter weight than glass
- bacteria resistant
- BPA free!
- good color stability (no yellowing!)
- food safe (won't leach chemicals and hurt your plants or animals)
- fungus resistant
- scratch resistant (less so than glass, though acrylic can be buffed out and easily made to look new)
- good thermal stability
- UV resistant
There are many common misconceptions about acrylic. Here are a few, "There are some misconceptions about acrylic, namely that it yellows, turns brittle, and cracks over time. Though this might be true of cheap forms of plastic, it is not so with acrylic. If taken care of, acrylic can remain new looking for several decades, regardless of age or exposure to sun. Some people worry that it scratches too easily, but unlike glass, scratches may be buffed out of acrylic." (source)
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