A view of acrylic

Acrylic plastic refers to a family of synthetic, or man-made, plastic materials containing one or more derivatives of acrylic products acid. The most common acrylic plastic is polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), which is sold under the brand names of Plexiglas, Lucite, Perspex, and Crystallite. PMMA is a tough, highly transparent material with excellent resistance to ultraviolet radiation and weathering. It can be colored, molded, cut, drilled, and formed. These properties make it ideal for many applications including airplane windshields, skylights, automobile taillights, and outdoor signs. One notable application is the ceiling of the Houston Astrodome which is composed of hundreds of double-insulating panels of PMMA acrylic plastic.

Acrylic plastic sheets are formed by a process known as bulk polymerization. In this process, the monomer and catalyst are poured into a mold where the reaction takes place. Two methods of bulk polymerization may be used: batch cell or continuous. Batch cell is the most common because it is simple and is easily adapted for making diy acrylic key chain sheets in thicknesses from 0.06 to 6.0 inches (0.16-15 cm) and widths from 3 feet (0.9 m) up to several hundred feet. The batch cell method may also be used to form rods and tubes. The continuous method is quicker and involves less labor. It is used to make sheets of thinner thicknesses and smaller widths than those produced by the batch cell method.
Any excess material, or flash, is trimmed off the edges, and masking paper products or plastic film is applied to the surface of the finished sheets for protection during handling and shipping. The paper or film is often marked with the material's brand name, size, and handling instructions. Conformance with applicable safety or building code standards is also noted.
The storage, handling, and processing of the chemicals that make acrylic plastics are done under controlled environmental conditions to prevent contamination of the material or unsafe chemical reactions. The control of temperature is especially critical to the polymerization process. Even the initial temperatures of the monomer and catalyst are controlled before they are introduced into the mold. During the entire process, the temperature of the reacting material is monitored and controlled to ensure the heating and cooling cycles are the proper temperature and duration.

Samples of finished acrylic materials are also given periodic laboratory analysis to confirm physical, optical, and chemical properties.
Acrylic plastics manufacturing involves highly toxic substances which require careful storage, handling, and disposal. The polymerization process can result in an explosion if not monitored properly. It also produces toxic fumes. Recent legislation requires that the polymerization process be carried out in a closed environment and that the fumes be cleaned, captured, or otherwise neutralized before discharge to the atmosphere.

Acrylic plastic is not easily recycled. It is considered a group 7 plastic among recycled plastics and is not collected for recycling in most communities. Large pieces can be reformed into other useful objects if they have not suffered too much stress, crazing, or cracking, but this accounts for only a very small portion of the acrylic display case boxes plastic waste. In a landfill, acrylic plastics, like many other plastics, are not readily biodegradable. Some acrylic plastics are highly flammable and must be protected from sources of combustion.
The average annual increase in the rate of consumption of acrylic plastics has been about 10%. A future annual growth rate of about 5% is predicted. Despite the fact that acrylic plastics are one of the oldest plastic materials in use today, they still hold the same advantages of optical clarity and resistance to the outdoor environment that make them the material of choice for many applications.

With so many options for clear plastic on the market, it is no surprise that lots of people misunderstand the differences between the types. Each type is made in a different way using different materials, which results in many different price points. We've put together this resource page to help sort out some of the most frequently asked questions, like "is acrylic a plastic or a glass?" and "what is the difference between acrylic and plastic?". While acrylic is a plastic, not all plastic is acrylic. The term "acrylic" represents a family of petroleum-based thermoplastics made from the derivation of natural gas. Another common name for acrylic is "polyacrylate" which is one of the most common types. This material is made from Methyl Methacrylate (MMA), Poly Methyl Methacrylate, or a combination of both.
Although the composition is pretty much the same, acrylic has many brand names. Plexiglas was the original trademark name when the Rohm and Haas Company first introduced the product to a mass market, but many others have established their own brand names including Lucite by du Pont and Acrylite by Evonik Cyro LLC. Some other common brands are Perspex, Oroglass, Optix, and Altuglass.Injection molded acrylic is manufactured by injecting acrylic or polymethyl methacrylate material into a mold. This transparent thermoplastic makes a great alternative to glass, which is why it is commonly used to manufacture bakery bins, sunglasses, and display risers. Unlike polystyrene, injection molded acrylic table number plate can be made without the issues of hazing or coloration. Additionally the material is much stronger and has minimal relief markings when removed from the mold. Injection molding takes less labor than hand-crafting, which results in a lower cost.