Types of Acrylic

Cast Acrylic vs. Extruded Acrylic

Acrylic is a very common plastic used in a variety of applications such as signage, point of purchase displays, scale models, painting, prototypes, exhibits displays or any applications where you want the clarity of glass without the safety or breakage concerns.

Acrylic is also much lighter than glass and can easily be heat formed into any number of shapes.

Laser Alliance LLC laser-cuts and manufactures many products such as signs, letters, company logos, scale model parts and many others using both types of acrylic.

Cast acrylic is usually requested in certain applications such as model making or engineering prototyping since laser-cut parts may require secondary mitering or machining. Whereas extruded acrylic is mostly used in signage, point-of-purchase displays, exhibits displays and many other applications.

There are two main processes in producing acrylic sheet. It can be extruded or cell cast:

  • Extruded: It simply means that a machine is pushing the liquified acrylic monomer between a series of rollers designed to flatten and cool the sheets as they run through the extrusion equipment. This process is more cost-effective. It probably accounts for about 80% of all the acrylic on the market.
  • Cast: Acrylic is made by pouring the liquid acrylic monomer between 2 sheets of highly polished glass sealed with a rubber gasket. This cell includes heat activated hardeners, or catalysts, and as the cells are gradually heated, typically through a series of water baths, produce a single sheet of solid acrylic. What you end up with is an acrylic sheet with little to no stress, and by virtue of the manufacturing process, is stronger due to the higher molecular structure of the sheet. This process is more time consuming and expensive. It is used in making thicker sheets or when the material is going to be used in an application where strength is an issue, such as aquariums or aircraft canopies, or when there is going to be some machining done to the acrylic.

When you attempt to machine extruded acrylic the heat created from the machining tends to release any stress put in the material as the force of the rollers squeezed the material to make it thinner. You wont have this problem with cast acrylic since there was no stress introduced during the manufacturing process. However, one of the benefits of extruded vs. cast is that tighter thickness tolerences can be achieved during the extrusion process than that in the casting process.

Laser Alliance LLC offers laser cutting and engraving acrylic to many industries since 1994.

We have the expertise and experience to deliver the best quality acrylic products to our clients.

At Laser Alliance LLC, service is our expertise.

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