Plexiglass or acrylic is a very popular choice in windows, aquariums, tanks, and exhibit enclosures. It’s also highly prized for many of its benefits. Since there are various types of plexiglass, they all come with a different set of perks. Most notably, heat resistance, flexibility, and scratch resistance.
It’s available in several colours and shades. With that said, in its transparent form, it offers immense light transmission. It can do as almost in the same capacity as glass would. As a result, this makes it a highly affordable and convenient substitute for glass. So how much heat can plexiglass actually bear? Read along to find out!
What does Plexiglass consist of?
Plexiglass is a thermoplastic homopolymer that is transparent. This material is very similar to polycarbonate sheet because of how well it can withstand impact. Acrylic is one of the clearest types of plastic on the market. Moreover, it’s incredibly lightweight and acts as a great alternative to glass.
After its first production in 1928, plexiglass rose to popularity as the material of choice for many common applications. Some of these were submarine periscopes in World War II, as well as airplane turrets, canopies, and windows.
Today, you can find plexiglass in a large range of products, taking advantage of its unparalleled transparency and impact resistance. This includes lenses, medical devices, security barriers, screens, furniture, nails, paint, etc.
The characteristics of Plexiglass
One of the key properties of this material is its thermoplasticity. Thermoplastic, in this context, describes how the plastic responds to heat. Any material with this property becomes a liquid at its melting point. In the case of acrylic, it’s 320°F (160°C). However, the major benefit when it comes to plexiglass is that it can be heated several times.
So even after it cools down, if it’s reheated, it will go back to its liquid form. A much better result compared to thermoset materials. Thermoset plastics will only go through that process once. After that, they will burn instead of melt. Because plexiglass can liquefy whenever there’s heat, it’s great for recycling.
Reasons to use Plexiglass
Plexiglass is such a popular material because it has many uses. Not only is it highly versatile but it’s also much more affordable than glass or polycarbonate. Moreover, it’s perfect for DIY projects because it’s much easier to cut and bend.
With mild heat and gentle pressure, you can make it into any shape or form you desire. In addition to that, it’s a lot lighter which makes it more convenient to transport and ship. Laser cutting technology also allows a great deal of creative freedom with how you can use it.
Whenever clarity is a must, acrylic sheets colored is the best choice. In most applications, plexiglass can be six to seventeen times stronger than normal glass. This makes it a much more reliable option, especially when the impact is an issue.
As one of the world’s oldest synthetic materials, plexiglass is very malleable. As a result, it’s easier to fabricate and mold. When it cools down after the heating process, it starts to hold its shape. This allows for drilling, sawing, and machining just like handling a piece of wood.
There are some rules to keep in mind when cleaning plexiglass. With that said, it requires very little upkeep. If it has slight blemishes or dirt, always opt for a microfiber cloth to blot the surface. You should also remove any grit or particles from the cloth to ensure you don’t scratch it even further.
How much heat can a clear plastic withstand?
Clear plastic comes in a variety of names, colors, and thicknesses. Each type has a different set of properties, hence a different heat resistance. Below, we list some of the most prominent ones.
- Plastic available in hardware stores is fairly strong. However, it is more prone to scratching and cracking. It starts to melt at 240°F (115.5°C), so it’s not as resistant compared to other UV types.
- Lexan (a brand name for polycarbonate) is a bit more flexible. It’s resistant to UVs and tends to manage cracks and scratches more efficiently. This material has a pliability at 280°F (137.7°C). You can usually find it in a large selection of colours -clear, tinted, frosted, etc.
- Acrylic also has most of the common characteristics of these plastics. Except it’s a lot more resistant to heat. Moreover, it liquefies when the temperature is at 320°F (160°C). Though it’s worth mentioning that acrylic does not have a UV reactive option.
- Copolyester is very flexible and has better impact resistance than most other options. It’s usually only available in clear, non UV options. This type is pliable at 250°F (121°C).
- PVC is one of the most rigid plastics. This makes it highly crack and scratch-resistant. It does very well in high heat and is also self-extinguishing. The liquefying point is around 245°F (118°C).
Do you use plexiglass around the house?