Plexiglass and Lucite are both trade names for Acrylic, just like Coke and Pepsi are trade names for cola. Acrylic Plexiglass and Lucite are a hard plastic which most commonly comes in clear but is available in hundreds of colors and there are color chips just like formica brand laminates.
Acrylic can be rounted with special routing bits, machined on a bridgeport, milled using a CNC Router or Laser cut. Laser cutting has it's own advantages and drawbacks. The material is cut by burning it, leaving a good looking polished edge, BUT there are problems with peeling the protective film which can get fused to the material. To counter this the manufacturers have created a special acrylic with a film that does not fuse to the material as readily.
Acrylic is used for many purposes. Storm windows and skylites are two very common uses.
A form of Acrylic, Lexan which is a polycarbonite is used in the windshield, rear window and side windows of stock cars, in particular NASCAR Nextel Cup Racing. This material is shatterproof, but with this comes a drawback it is more able to be scratched. Most race teams only use the material one time, then change it out with new glass before the race car is used again.
Acrylic can also have it's edge polished by using one of two methods, flame polishing and buffing. Basically both methods do the same thing, they heat the edge of the material up and "gloss" it over. Flame polishing is not recommended if the material is going to be solvent welded to another piece of plexiglass.
Solvent welding is a method of chemically "melting" two piece of acrylic together to form a stong joint.
Acrylic can be line bent, thermoformed and injection molded. Line bending of acrylic is done to create sign holders, brochure holders, cell phone holders, and many other displays. Thermoforming or vacuum forming involves heating a sheet of material and pulling it over a mold then turning on a vacuum pump which pulls the material down tight on the mold until it cools. Vacuum forming is used extensively in jewelry displays, retail fixtures, merchandising displays and sunglass displays. It is a relatively cheap process due to the low cost of the molds involved. Injection molding is the most expensive as a two part aluminum mold must be created which is stong due to the pressure of the process. Basically the mold is closed and melted acrylic is injected into the cavity of the mold. The part is quickly cooled by water tubes that run through the mold. Then the mold is opened and the part is pushed out.
Acrylic is used extensively in the Point of Purchase Display field for Sign Holders, Brochure Holders, Poster Holders, Custom Displays, Acrylic Sign Holders, Retail Fixtures, Sunglass Displays, Greeting Card Displays, and Cell Phone Displays.
How to Use/ Work with Acrylic, Plexiglass, Lucite
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Over 30 Years Experience fabricating Point of Purchase Displays