6.a. More information about acrylic
Acrylic – also known by a variety of other names, including plexiglass, Plexi, perspex, lucite, and PMMA – is the most popular laser-cutting material that we carry as it is inexpensive and has an attractive finish with laser-polished edges that is ready for immediate display.
Acrylic is available in a variety of thicknesses (which we can cut up to 1″), and a variety of transparent, translucent, and opaque colors, including fluorescent and mirrored options too. We have a large selection of acrylic colors and thickness available; for a complete list of our stocked materials, please see our quote request page. If you need something else, we might be able to special-order it for you from our suppliers, or you can ship it to us instead.
While acrylic is lighter and stronger than glass, it is also somewhat brittle and is susceptible to cracking if it is dropped or hit – especially at sharp corners in your design – or if drilled using the wrong bit or poor technique. We do not recommend acrylic for applications that require rough handling.
You can glue acrylic together using special acrylic glues such as Weld-On. Please contact your local hardware store and ask for glues used for acrylic.
Acrylic comes with a protective, paper or film, masking attached to the surface, which we leave on when we cut and ship your parts to avoid scratching the surface. Once you receive the parts, you will need to peel the masking. Here is a video that shows an easy way to unmask acrylic, which is especially helpful if you have a lot of parts!
After you have unmasked the acrylic, it can naturally build up a static charge, which can attract dirt and dust.
To clean acrylic, we always recommend that you use a very soft microfiber cloth, and avoid using paper towels, as their rough surfaces can often cause more scratches on the acrylic surface. Usually, a simple mixture of warm water and mild dish soap will do the trick, and you should avoid using harsh household cleaning products like Windex. For a more thorough cleaning, we recommend Novus #1 plastic cleaner, which is available in multiple kit sizes, or separately, from a variety of retailers, including Amazon.
WARNING: Never use isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to clean acrylic as it will cause the acrylic to crack!
Cast and extruded acrylic
Acrylic starts as a liquid resin, which is either cast into a glass mold, or continuously extruded through a machine to make flat sheets. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages against each other, and the following table highlights some of the most important differences:
|Cast Acrylic||Extruded Acrylic|
|Turns frosty white when engraved, which provides high-contrast engravings||Engraving is difficult to see from most angles|
|Thickness varies much more||Better thickness tolerances|
|Higher molecular weight; less susceptible to cracking, e.g. when machined||Lower molecular weight; more susceptible to cracking, e.g. when machined|
|Higher melting point results in less polished finish||Lower melting point provides a more polished finish|
|Wider variety of colors available||Fewer color options|
Acrylic is commonly used in place of glass for a variety of different uses, such as:
Below are pictures of most of the 3mm acrylic colors we stock. Your monitor will probably not show the colors exactly, but the pictures should give you some idea of what the colors are like. We do stock other colors and materials: see the quote request form for a complete list.