Acrylic is a family of thermoplastic materials known under many trademarks, such as Acrylite, Plexiglas, Crylux, Lucite, Perspex, and numerous others. Acrylic sheeting is well-known for its wide selection of colors, glossy appearance, durability, and high resistance to various forms of wear and tear. However, acrylic sheets are also available in an extensive range of types and grades, each offering different properties. Learn about the many types of acrylic sheets, their properties and characteristics, and the best applications for each.
Clear Acrylic Sheets
Clear sheeting is among the most commonly utilized acrylic sheeting types. The primary advantage of clear acrylic sheeting is the diverse range of sheet dimensions available. For instance, clear acrylic sheeting typically ranges in thickness between 0.04” and 4”. Sheet lengths usually vary between 4’ to 12.5’, and widths range from 3’ to 10’. The sheer variety of dimensions makes it possible to find any size of acrylic sheets for any application. Whether you need small or large acrylic sheets, there is a size and thickness for virtually any job or project. Another advantage of clear acrylic sheeting is transparency. Scientific testing has shown that clear acrylic sheeting features a light transmission rate of up to 92%. This property makes clear sheeting ideal for applications where view clarity is necessary, such as windows or display cases. Additionally, clear acrylic sheeting is highly durable and safe. As with all other acrylic materials, clear sheeting features 17 times the impact strength of glass, and if it does break, it shatters into dull-edged shards that are safer to handle by hand. These properties mean clear acrylic is suitable for security applications, such as safety panes.
Colored Acrylic Sheets
Colored acrylic sheets are non-translucent and typically feature a single flat color. They are almost used as often as their translucent counterparts. The primary advantage of this acrylic sheet type is the extensive selection of different available colors. An acrylic supplier can produce opaque sheets in virtually any color. Each manufacturer typically has a list of available colors on a swatch catalog alongside each color’s corresponding swatch code. These codes are employed to differentiate shades of the same color and can be referenced to ensure color consistency. For example, Plastic Zone’s swatch codes 212, 215, and 235 correspond to three different shades of yellow. Colored acrylic sheets are highly saturated and vibrant. Besides enhancing the aesthetic appeal of any room or furniture, you can also use colors to match your company’s branding or introduce a color-coding system for distinguishing different rooms, items, or products.
Textured Acrylic Sheets
Textured acrylic sheets typically use the same translucent material as standard clear acrylic sheets. However, they feature a textured pattern instead of a flat, smooth surface. The texture changes the acrylic sheeting’s appearance, feel, and light diffusion and may be either embossed or debossed, letting light through but significantly reducing its optical clarity. These properties make textured acrylic sheets ideal for constructing partitions, privacy shower glass, skylights, or as an alternative to glazed windows. These acrylic sheet types are available in an extensive array of texture patterns. Examples include honeycomb, frosted, pebble texture, and stone texture.
Mirrored Acrylic Sheets
A mirrored acrylic sheet is a light-reflective material that can be employed as a replacement for standard glass mirrors. Today, two of the most commonly used mirrored acrylic sheet brands include Plexiglas and Acrylite. Mirrored acrylic presents multiple advantages over standard glass, mainly when used as a mirror for interior decoration or architectural applications. The primary benefit of mirrored acrylic sheeting is its lightweight nature, making acrylic mirrors much easier to transport and carry. It is also easier to clean, less likely to develop smears or stains, and will not discolor when exposed to UV rays.
Light-Diffusing Acrylic Sheets
Light-diffusing acrylic sheeting belongs to the general category of light-diffuser plastics, alongside other materials such as ABS and polycarbonate. Although they appear similar to standard clear acrylic at first glance, these acrylic types are manufactured using a light-diffusing agent. The purpose of a light-diffusing sheet is to enhance the light transmission quality, diminish luminance fluctuations and pin-points (“hot spots”), and spread light out more evenly. It enhances the colors, lighting, shadows, and overall vibrance of any object placed behind it, especially when lit using LED lighting. Applications for light-diffusing typically include illuminated signage, cabinets, display cases, and photography.
Solar-Tinted Acrylic Sheets
Solar-tinted acrylic sheeting is a type of translucent acrylic sheet that features tinting of varying intensities and colors. Although they feature slightly decreased light transmission compared to standard clear acrylic, the tinting provides various degrees of protection against solar energy, blocking out UV rays and protecting objects and furniture from damage due to sun exposure. Solar-tinted acrylic sheeting is typically available in a selection of gray or bronze shades, each with different solar protection and light transmission ratings. Depending on the supplier and tinting color, a solar-tinted acrylic sheet may reduce solar energy exposure by 20% to 75% while reducing visible light by 10% to 75%.
Non-Glare Acrylic Sheets
Non-glare sheeting (sometimes called P99) is a specialized type of clear acrylic sheet that uses a super-light matte finish on the surface to diffuse incoming light and minimize reflections and glare. Non-glare properties are desirable when you need an undistracted view of an object displayed behind the acrylic sheet. Typical applications for non-glare acrylic sheeting include display cases, artwork frames, trade show booth cases, and art gallery exhibits.
Anti-Static Acrylic Sheets
Anti-static acrylic sheeting, also known as electrostatic dissipative (ESD) acrylic sheeting, is a clear acrylic material designed to protect objects displayed behind it from damage due to static electricity. Static electricity is the primary cause of electrostatic discharge events, which can severely damage electronics. Although most types of acrylic sheeting provide excellent protection against many hazards, static electricity may still build up on the surface and endanger any displayed sensitive electronic devices, such as computers, laptops, or smartphones. Anti-static acrylic sheeting features a unique surface coating that prevents the formation of static electricity. Additionally, this anti-static coating is built into the acrylic sheet and is unaffected by humidity or exposure to the elements.
Abrasion-Resistant Acrylic Sheets
Abrasion-resistant (AR) acrylic sheeting, sometimes known as mar-resistant (MR) acrylic, is a high-durability alternative to standard clear acrylic. This acrylic type features a built-in permanent coating designed to protect the acrylic material against abrasions and marring. The coating also enhances the sheeting’s chemical resistance and durability when exposed to specific chemicals like oils, solvents, and acids. Abrasion-resistant acrylic sheeting is subcategorized into two groups: AR1 sheeting and AR2 sheeting.
— AR1 Sheeting
AR1 sheeting features an abrasion-resistant coating on a single side, with the other remaining non-coated as in a standard clear acrylic sheet. Because AR1 sheeting only provides its abrasion- and chemical-resistant properties on one side, applications typically include objects that only need these protections in one direction, such as tabletops or LCD screens.
— AR2 Sheeting
AR2 sheeting features an abrasion-resistant coating on both sides, ensuring static does not build up on any part of the sheeting, regardless of its orientation. It is ideal for high-traffic applications where objects and people may come into contact with the acrylic sheeting from both sides, such as windows, retail display cases, or paneling.
— Impact-Modified Acrylic Sheets
Impact-modified acrylic sheeting is an acrylic material made using components designed to increase its natural impact resistance. Standard acrylic has 17 times the impact resistance of ordinary glass. However, it has significantly less resistance than the more expensive yet more durable polycarbonate, which can be up to 250 times more impact-resistant. The primary purpose of impact-modified acrylic sheeting is to close the gap between standard acrylic and polycarbonate without becoming cost-prohibitive. An impact-modified acrylic sheet can increase the material’s impact resistance by up to 10 times that of unmodified acrylic (approx. 170 times that of glass). It also preserves the other advantages of acrylic materials, such as low weight, high optical clarity, and high light transmission rates.
Lucite Block Acrylic Sheets
Lucite block acrylic sheeting is a specialized type of sheeting that makes it possible to embed LED lighting directly into the acrylic material. Its purpose is to create specially shaped LED lights, such as illuminated letters, signage, and displays. Lucite block acrylic features high resistance to temperature, allowing an LED display using this material to remain continuously lit without causing damage or accelerated wear and tear.
Contact Plastic Zone Today For Your Next Project
Plastic Zone has over 35 years of experience providing customers with premium-grade acrylic fabrication and distribution services. We offer a wide array of acrylic materials, cut and sized using the latest technologies, such as laser cutting and CNC machinery. Contact us today at (818) 345-5525 or send us a message our contact form with your project details.