Acrylic sheets are used in different industries and are very much in demand. From building a skylight to the development of helicopters, acrylic sheets are used for all types of purposes.
There are several acrylic manufacturers and sellers in the market and if you are planning to buy large quantities of acrylic from such a vendor, there are a few questions that most first-time buyers end up asking. Her, we will highlight the seven most important questions and their answers.
# Extruded vs. Cast Acrylic – What is the Difference?
Both types of acrylic are quite useful and serve different purposes, but their differences lie in chemical and thermal properties. Their manufacturing processes and usages are different as well. Cast manufacturing process leads to variation in the thickness of sheets. On the other hand, the extruded processed sheets’ thickness remains more or less the same. Cast acrylic responds to temperature differences and can shrink up to 2% in all directions. On the other hand, extruded sheet shrinks as well, but it depends on the thickness of the material and direction of hump.
If you are planning to apply heat, bend the material or form a vacuum, extruded acrylic sheet is better. Its tolerance level is much higher than cast acrylic. However, when it comes to solvent adaptability, cast acrylic is superior to extruded in terms of thermal stability and resistance against crazing. Cast acrylic is also better than extruded if you compare their surface finish, flatness and optical properties.
# Is it true that acrylic sheets can become yellow colored, if exposed to sunlight?
It all depends on the quality of the material used in your acrylic sheet. If you buy Perspex acrylic sheets, the possibility of the sheet turning yellow is almost 0%. In fact, sellers often give long term guarantee on discoloration.
# What is the ideal acrylic softening temperature? What coolants can I use?
If you heat the acrylic sheet above 80°C, it will become soft. This heat can cause stress and machining. Therefore, it’s very important that when you cut the acrylic sheets, the heat isn’t greater than 80°C. Try to maintain minimum heat. A number of coolants can be used to keep the heat low. You can use water, water/air mists, compressed air and soluble oils. Make sure the soluble oil is in oil-in-water emulsion. It must not comprise solvents which can generate stress cracking.
# What are the best saws for acrylic cutting?
If you want to cut only small portions, fine toothed fret saws or hack saws are ideal. Apply only light pressure while cutting. If you want to use machine powered saws, then jig saws, band saws and fret saws are perfect for the job. However, if you have never sliced acrylic before, it’s better to listen to the guidance provided by the seller because wrong selection of saws can make things worse.
# Can I laser cut acrylic sheets?
Fortunately, laser cutting is possible. With the help of a laser cutter machine, you can achieve intricate and complex shapes.
# What if I want to drill holes in acrylic?
You can use standard woodworking twist drills for normal drilling work. While drilling, make sure the back end of the acrylic is supported by wood so that the exit hole does not cause any damage to the sheet. Never use a center punch before drilling and if you want to drill deep, always use coolants. Remove the swarf from time to time for smooth drilling.
# What if I want to screw and tap acrylic sheets?
Standard taps and dies can be utilized for cutting screw threads in acrylic. However, it is not the ideal option. It’s better to use coarse threads because chances of damage to the sheet are lesser.
Remember to ask these questions to the acrylic manufacturer before placing the order and compare his answers with the ones I have provided here. If you find that his answers are convincing, you can lay your trust in him because there are too many websites selling acrylic sheets these days and only a handful of them sell genuine, quality products.