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Acrylic Blanks: The Ultimate FAQ Guide
I know you’re looking for affordable and high-quality acrylic blanks.
A reason why this guide will answer all questions you have about acrylic blanks such as properties, benefits, safety precautions, drilling and cleaning, among other fundamental aspects.
So before investing in new acrylic blanks, read this guide.
- What is Acrylic Blank?
- How do You Make Acrylic Material for Manufacturing Blanks?
- What are the Benefits of Using Acrylic Blanks?
- Are there Disadvantages of Using Acrylic Blanks?
- Does Acrylic Blank Turn Yellow in the Sun?
- Can you Cement Acrylic Blanks?
- What happens if an Acrylic Blank Gets Scratched?
- Are Acrylic Blanks Available in Different Colors?
- How do You Clean an Acrylic Blank?
- Can you Remove Solvent Cement from an Acrylic Blank?
- How can you Remove Paper Mask from an Acrylic Blank?
- Can you Glue Edges of a Flame Polished Acrylic Blank?
- Is Standard Acrylic Blank Non-conductive?
- How Do You Drill Acrylic Blank?
- How Can You Laser Engrave Acrylic Blanks?
- What are the Correct Settings when Engraving Acrylic Blank?
- How Do You Cut Acrylic Blanks?
- What are the Safety Precautions when Cutting an Acrylic Blank?
- What are Properties of Acrylic Blanks?
- How Does Acrylic and Polycarbonate Compare?
- How Does the Strength of an Acrylic Blank Compare to Other Plastics?
- How do Clear, Milky, and Frosted Acrylic Compare?
- What Types of Acrylic Material Can Be Used to Make Blanks?
- What are the Applications of Acrylic Blanks?
- How Do You Seal and Paint Acrylic Blanks?
- What Factors Should You Consider when Choosing Acrylic Blank?
- Can You Heat Acrylic blank to Bend it?
- Are Acrylic Blanks as Clear as Glass?
- What Temperature Can Make Acrylic Blank to Soften?
- What Coolants Can You Use to Prevent Buildup of Heat in Acrylic Blanks?
- What Saws Are Suitable for Cutting Acrylic Blanks?
- What are the Recommendations when Screwing and Tapping Acrylic Blanks?
- What Shapes do Acrylic Blanks Come in?
What is Acrylic Blank?
This is a family of synthetic plastic that has one or more variations of acrylic acid.
They are usually transparent and you can use it to make ornaments, key chains, etc.
How do You Make Acrylic Material for Manufacturing Blanks?
The primary monomer or molecule that manufactures acrylic blanks are Methyl methacrylate.
It assists in the formation of polymethyl methacrylate and other kinds of acrylic plastic polymers.
The formation of acrylic blanks happens when you react a monomer like methyl methacrylate with a catalyst.
An example of a basic catalyst is organic peroxide.
This catalyst will begin the reaction process as it enters the material to enhance the formation process.
However, it does not become part of the final polymer.
An acrylic blank can come in three forms namely, flat sheets, molding powder, or elongated shapes.
Suspension polymerization is the process that forms molding powder.
In this process, a reaction will occur between monomers that float as tiny droplets in a catalyst and water solution.
This process forms grains of polymers that have a tight molecular weight that is suitable for extrusion or molding.
To form an acrylic blank sheet, you will use bulk polymerization.
This process involves one pouring a catalyst and a monomer is a mould whereby the reaction process takes place.
There are two techniques of bulk polymerization you can employ.
These are batch cell bulk polymerization and continuous bulk polymerization.
The most popular method is batch cell bulk polymerization as it is simple and easy to adapt to various acrylic blank thickness.
Also, you can use it to manufacture tubes and rods.
Continuous bulk polymerization is fast and uses less labor.
It has the benefit of forming thin acrylic blanks with small widths that that of batch cell method.
Here is how these two processes work:
Continuous Bulk Polymerization
This process is like that of batch cell bulk polymerization.
However, since it forms thin and small sheets, the process time to manufacture these blanks is shorter.
It starts by introducing a syrup of catalyst and monomer on one end of horizontal stainless steel sets.
These sets run parallel one over the other.
The distance that is between these belts will influence the thickness of the sheet that forms these acrylic blanks.
Also, these belts will hold the monomer and catalyst syrup that reacts.
Then it will move it via zones that involve heating and cooling all according to the appropriate temperature cycle.
This temperature cycle assists in the curing process of the materials.
Electric heaters or warmer gases will then drain the liquid when it passes out from the end of the belt.
After all this, you will trim the sheets to size and then apply a masking paper of a plastic film on it.
· Batch Cell Bulk Polymerization
This process begins by assembling the mold that produces these acrylic sheets in two plates.
These two plates have polishes and a flexible window-frame spacer separates them.
The spacer lies on the outer edges of the surface of the glass plates which forms a secure cavity between the plates.
Also, the flexible spacer will allow the cavity mold to shrink when the polymerization process is taking place.
This allows it to compensate for the contraction volume of the substance while the reaction continues.
The reaction happens so that is forms linking polymers from individual polymers.
In some manufacturing applications, the metal plates that have polishes will replace glass material.
Also, you can stack many plates one over the other which makes the top surface of one plate to be the lower surface of the other.
Spring clamps will clamp all the plates and spacers together.
Thereafter, you will fill every mold cavity with a catalyst and methacrylate monomer liquid syrup.
In some scenarios, you can add methyl methacrylate prepolymer.
Prepolymers are substances of polymer that forms partial chains that assist in the polymerization process.
Liquid syrup runs into the mold cavity to fill it.
Thereafter, you will seal and apply heat to assist the catalyst begin the reaction process.
The reaction may generate heat independently as the reaction process proceeds.
One can fan off the air within the ovens or place the molds in water baths.
A programmed temperature loop will then follow.
This is to ensure proper treatment time avoiding unnecessary vaporization of the monomer blend.
Also, it inhibits the formation of bubbles.
Thin acrylic sheets will cure within 10 to 12 hours while thicker sheets may take many days to cure.
Once the acrylic cures, you can cool and open the molds
Thereafter, you will clean and reassemble the metallic plates ready for the upcoming batch.
One can use the acrylic blank as it is or you can anneal it by heating them for many hours between 140-150°C [284-302°F].
This will lower residual stress on the material which can cause warping or dimensional instabilities.
Thereafter, you will trim the excess material off the edges of the acrylic blank.
A paper mask or plastic film on the surface can protect the acrylic blank during the shipping and handling processes.
This paper mask or film has information like handling procedures, brand identity, and the size.
It also contains standards relating to building codes and safety.
What are the Benefits of Using Acrylic Blanks?
There are several benefits and they include:
Exotic acrylic blank
Resistant to UV
Since it is lightweight and quick to mold into every form, acrylic blank is suitable for making a variety of items.
They are an excellent commodity for outdoor use since they are heat tolerant up to 160 degrees Celsius.
The biggest upside in any plastic substance is reusability, and acrylics blanks adhere to that effect.
Manufacturing companies can, even after decades of usage, reuse acrylic blanks in any shape, such as plates and utensils.
This is because they contain the very same strength and consistency of the content.
However, the mechanism is a little complex, but it does fulfill the function.
It is easy to reuse as it is a synthetic material hence such an eco-friendly choice.
Variety of Colors
Acrylic blanks come in several colors and designs.
This means you can select a color that suits your needs or even go for transparent ones.
They can come in several varieties like mirror acrylic, frosted acrylic, or fluorescent acrylic.
It is cheap to manufacture and purchase thus a great alternative to glass.
Ease of Molding
This is one of the important advantages of acrylic blanks as it offers several possibilities.
When you heat acrylic blanks to 100 degrees Celsius, you can mold it into various shapes.
It holds the shape as it cools and you can see glassware, trophies, because of this trait.
The toughness of acrylic blanks makes it suitable for windows and the lenses for car headlights.
When you use acrylic blanks as outdoor signs, it will hold up for a long time as it resists weathering and protects the colors.
Lighter in Weight
It is worth noting that acrylic blanks weigh 50% less than glass.
This makes it easy and comfortable to handle.
Also, you can use is as skylights to enhance light coming in yet it will not increase load on the foundation.
Besides, one inch of acrylic blank can bulletproof a car.
Acrylic blank possesses a tensile strength that is greater than 10000 pounds per square inch.
It is also having up to 17 times greater impact resistance that ordinary glass.
This means it will not shatter when it encounters a high impact.
Also, when it breaks, it will form huge, dull-edged pieces.
This trait makes it ideal for shower doors, sliding glass doors, security barriers, bath enclosures, etc.
Acrylic blanks retain its optical clarity meaning it does not turn yellow as it ages hence remains transparent.
This feature makes it suitable for a variety of applications like greenhouses, windows, take-out displays, food freeze guards, etc.
Also, it will not have a green tint as you thicken it.
Besides, it does not turn yellow or fade when you continuously expose it to sunlight.
Heat resistance is also another reason for the widespread use of acrylic blanks.
Using a standard plastic sheet may induce it to harden and crack in a few years.
However, acrylic blanks can last a couple of decades until they need for replacement arises.
They have a small expansion index that makes it easier for snug fitting and sealing.
Ease of Maintenance
Although there are several guidelines for acrylic blanks care and washing, this is an easy-to-maintain material.
It is advisable to use a wet microfiber cloth to clean an acrylic blank with small blemishes and dirt and to remove the material.
Also, it is vital to ensure that the particles and grit are entirely withdrawn from your cleaning fabric.
This is because unintentional scraping of coarse dirt or unwanted particles will lead to further scratching of acrylic.
It is appropriate to be gentle when cleaning acrylic blanks.
Avoid the use of coarse paper towels as they cannot eliminate scratches and can unintentionally cause them.
Often avoid ammonia-based substances.
This is because they contain dangerous chemicals that harm the surface, causing it to look cloudy
Ease of Processing
Standard glass is at a greater risk of cracking during the processing stage, however there is no issue for acrylic blanks.
Acrylic blanks provide nearly infinite production choices.
You can saw these blanks, mill, drill, engrave, glue, polish and bend by the use of heat.
Are there Disadvantages of Using Acrylic Blanks?
Cost is relative to personal preference and the area of use of acrylic sheets.
This is because extrusion production will cost less or equal to glass hence not a disadvantage.
Nevertheless, cast transparent acrylic blanks cost a lot more than their counter alternatives.
Features such as special molding, printing and extra material strength may increase the cost
The largest drawback and the only one that matters is the flammable nature of acrylic blanks.
They have a mean temperature tolerance of around 160 degrees Celsius, which is much lower than glass.
The exposure to fire or extremely high temperatures will set acrylic blanks on fire.
Also, this will lead to leakages of poisonous gases as a residue.
Therefore, always install in an area that do not have extremely high temperatures.
The method of producing acrylic blanks can generate highly toxic gases.
Any worker working on an acrylic blanks need protective equipment and clothing.
There is also a chance that acrylic will explode during polymerization if you do not take the right precautions.
Hard to Recycle
Acrylic blank is recyclable, but, since it is not compostable, the procedure is not as simple.
Although you can re-use acrylic by breaking bigger sheets into tiny parts and making them into other items.
Ease of Distortion
This may occur when you are manufacturing acrylic blanks as they tend to bend.
The first drawback to using acrylics blanks is that it scratches more quickly than glass.
This suggests that more attention would be necessary while treating to decrease the occurrence of scratching.
However, if you inadvertently have some marks, it’s simple for you to return it to its original shape.
What you should do is polish the acrylic blank to eliminate the marks.
Never again use sandpaper on acrylics, and take special caution if you clean acrylic blanks with coarse pads.
Does Acrylic Blank Turn Yellow in the Sun?
Acrylic blanks originate from natural gas and when in solid form, they are completely inert.
Therefore, they will retain their color for a long period of time.
Can you Cement Acrylic Blanks?
Yes, you can cement acrylic blanks.
These are the cementing methods one can use:
This is the most popular methods of cementing acrylic blanks.
It functions because of the capacity of minimal viscosity solvent-type cement that flows through the joint region via capillary action.
It also gives a strong and transparent joint when you handle it properly.
Obtain and assess the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) before cementing a particular acrylic blank.
Ensure all parts fit snugly before beginning this cementing process.
Join all parts with a masking tape or clamp to ensure they are stable.
Apply cement and let it soak at the edges between 45 and 60 seconds then remove the shims.
Also, you slightly tilt the vertical shaft if the cement has not flown in the joint entirely.
These bonds form in less than 10 seconds and it is advisable to wait 3 hours before proceeding to the next piece.
Within 1 to 2 days, there will be high strength and it continuously builds over many weeks.
Cementing by Dipping or Soaking
Begin by pouring some cement solvent in a dipping or soaking pan.
Proceed by dipping one end of the acrylic blank in the solvent.
Ensure to dip the edge only as too much of the solvent will yield weak and slow setting joints.
20 seconds in the solvent is suitable for a thin sheet while 30 seconds is appropriate for thick sheets.
After removing the acrylic from the solvent, hold it for a while as excess solvent drips away.
Immediately place that end in the place where you want the joint.
Hold it steadily for 30 seconds while applying no pressure to it.
This allows the solvent to reach and cover the surface that has no solvent material.
Apply a slight pressure to eliminate bubbles that form after the 20 seconds elapse.
Make sure you are not applying excessive pressure as it will remove the cement from the joint.
Hold the pieces with a clamp for around 10 to 30 minutes so that they do not move.
The firsts bond will form within 10 seconds.
Thereafter, you can conduct subsequent processes after 3 hours.
The longer the bond stays in place, the more strength it builds.
Apply viscous cements to connect pieces that you cannot easily cement by capillary or soak solvent methods.
This may be because the joints are difficult to penetrate or because the margins do not match well together.
The viscous cement is very thick. It can fill small holes and render solid, clear joints where solvent cements are unsuitable.
Strip away the masking around the joint region and gently apply the cement bead to one side of the joint.
Use a brush, a spatula or a cement applicator.
Then carefully link together the pieces as in the soak cementing.
Apply a solvent-resistant tape around the joint to protect it.
While the cement is still wet, carefully remove the tape after 5 minutes.
Ensure you are not touching the parts for the first 3 minutes.
This enables the joint to be firm.
However, you can carefully relocate the parts after 10 minutes.
What happens if an Acrylic Blank Gets Scratched?
It is easy to restore the scratches but it all depends on the degree of the scratch.
Also, it is easy to remove scratches easily from acrylic than it is for polycarbonate.
Besides, you can easily eliminate light scratches by buffing then out that it is for deeper scratches.
Nevertheless, if it is being deeper than 5mm, it is actually not worth it because it is impossible to buff out.
It is affordable to buy a new one that it is to fix one if:
- The acrylic blank is very old
- Scratches occupy more than 30% or 50% of the surface area.
Here is how to deal with light and deep scratches:
To eliminate such scratches, you need the following:
- Plastic or acrylic polish
- Sandpaper with 800 and 1200 grit
- Water that will soak the sand paper
Soak the 800 grit sandpaper and rub it in a circular motion on the area that has scratches.
After that, repeat the process but with a dry 800 grit sandpaper.
Alternate the dry and wet sandpaper for three minutes.
The acrylic blank will start to become frosty or have more scratches as this is part of the entire process.
After this, use the 200 grit sandpaper and repeat the procedure till all scratches disappear.
Dry they are with clean cotton material and apply acrylic polish.
This will lead to a scratch free acrylic blank.
These will need extra effort to eliminate.
If you run your fingernails on the scratch and it catches between, consider it a deep scratch.
The process is similar to that of a light scratch only that you will begin with a 600 grit sandpaper.
Alternate dry and wet 600 grit sandpaper and use a circular motion on the area that has the scratch.
Do this for 3 minutes then move to the 800 grit and finally to the 1200 grit sandpaper.
Ensure you alternate dry and wet sandpaper and rub in circular motion for these sandpapers.
Finally, use a clean cloth to dry the area and apply acrylic polish.
Are Acrylic Blanks Available in Different Colors?
Yes, acrylic blanks do come in different colors.
- Matte black
- Gloss black
- Green, etc.
Different colors of acrylic blank
How do You Clean an Acrylic Blank?
It is simple when it comes to cleaning acrylic blanks.
Use a clean micro-fibre cloth and some soapy water to clean small blemishes, fading, dust, or dirt.
Apply the soapy water on the cloth and lightly wipe the area.
Make sure you are not applying too much pressure as it may form scratches.
Also, avoid using ammonia-based solutions.
This is because they have harmful chemicals and will make the acrylic blank appear cloudy.
Also, avoid using paper towels as they might cause scratches to form.
Can you Remove Solvent Cement from an Acrylic Blank?
It is worth noting that once you apply solvent cement, it is impossible to remove it.
This is because it bonds with the acrylic blank and the excess solvent will evaporate.
Once it evaporates, a light outline is visible where it was initially.
An alternative is to try biffing the area to form a smooth surface.
How can you Remove Paper Mask from an Acrylic Blank?
Apply water to the paper mask then peel it back from the acrylic blank.
Alternatively, you can add a small mixture of alcohol to water then spray on the paper mask.
One you apply the solution, proceed by carefully pulling it back from the acrylic blank.
Can you Glue Edges of a Flame Polished Acrylic Blank?
No, you cannot glue these edges.
This is because they will form small cracks from the heat that is applying flame to the edges.
Is Standard Acrylic Blank Non-conductive?
No, standard acrylic blanks are conductive materials.
A spray coating is possible when non-conductivity is necessary.
How Do You Drill Acrylic Blank?
When drilling acrylic, cracks may form on the blank.
This is because you are using a fast drilling speed of you are applying too much pressure on the drill.
The excess pressure happens when you are exiting the hole that is on the lower side of the acrylic blank.
Ensure you place another piece of acrylic or even a plywood on the underside of the acrylic blank.
This makes sure the drill will not pass via the solid material.
If you are using a commercial twist drill, ensure it is at an angle of 60 to 90 degrees to the ground.
How Can You Laser Engrave Acrylic Blanks?
An acrylic blank is unique as it can absorb specific types of light wavelengths.
It will absorb the energy from the laser.
This will mean it can have engravings even when using lasers that have low watts.
Also, you can apply engravings to both sides of the acrylic blank.
When engraving, always measure twice and cut once.
To engrave the acrylic blank, ensure the acrylic has no scratches or cracks.
Next, you will focus the laser beam on the acrylic blanks.
The power should be set to 25% to 50% while the speed should be 350mm/min.
After this, you can proceed the engraving process.
Once it is complete, allow it to cool then remove the residue by the use of soap and water.
What are the Correct Settings when Engraving Acrylic Blank?
A good engraving depends on the settings of the laser.
Enlarge the spot size of the laser beam when dealing with huge areas to avoid raster lines.
Speed and Power
The best laser engravings come from low power and high speeds.
The material determines the frequency.
However, start with 10,000 – 20,000 Hz for cast acrylic and 2,000 – 5,000 Hz for extruded acrylic.
It is suitable to have a suction system at the lower side of the acrylic even though it is optional.
This is because it assists in eliminating gases that may stay in the cut kerf.
It helps in preventing flames, controlling frosting, and ignition of gasses.
How Do You Cut Acrylic Blanks?
One can use a plastic-scoring blade to cut acrylic blanks.
Apply pressure to score the acrylic severally on the same line.
Place the acrylic on the edge and apply a light pressure to snap along the score.
What are the Safety Precautions when Cutting an Acrylic Blank?
It is advisable to wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from the shattering pieces.
Also, wear protective clothing and ensure you are in an area that has good ventilation.
What are Properties of Acrylic Blanks?
- A relative density of 1.19 g/cm3.
- Tensile strength of 75 MPa.
- Flexural Strength of 115 MPa.
- Minimum service temperature of -40⁰C.
- Maximum service temperature of 80⁰C.
- Softening temperature of 110⁰C or more.
- Light transmission of more than 92%.
- Refractive Index of 1.49.
How Does Acrylic and Polycarbonate Compare?
Polycarbonate has a high impact resistance than acrylic.
Acrylic is highly flammable than polycarbonate.
One can polish the edges of acrylic and not polycarbonate.
Acrylic will crack when you drill at the edge while polycarbonate will not crack.
Acrylic achieve a clean glue joint than polycarbonate.
They are both easy to clean.
Polycarbonate is expensive than acrylic.
How Does the Strength of an Acrylic Blank Compare to Other Plastics?
Polycarbonate is the strongest, then PET/PETG, impact modified acrylic blank, and finally general-purpose acrylic blank.
How do Clear, Milky, and Frosted Acrylic Compare?
Clear acrylic is as transparent as glass, frosted acrylic is translucent, whereas milky acrylic has a milky-white appearance to it.
What Types of Acrylic Material Can Be Used to Make Blanks?
- Clear acrylic sheet
- White acrylic sheet
- Colored acrylic sheet
- Mirrored acrylic sheet
- Light diffusing acrylic sheet
- Solar tinted acrylic sheet
- Non-glare acrylic sheet
- Anti-glare acrylic sheet
- Abrasion resistant acrylic sheet
- Impact modified acrylic sheet
- Lucite block acrylic sheet
- Textured acrylic sheet
What are the Applications of Acrylic Blanks?
- Architectural applications
- Medical applications
- Fashion accessories
- Display application
- Automotive industries
How Do You Seal and Paint Acrylic Blanks?
Begin by pouring the paint at the corner.
Use a brush to spread the paint from the corner.
Apply light even strokes and continue till the paint is even on the surface.
Always clean the brush after each coat.
Wait for 2 hours between coats and apply other coats if necessary to complete sealing your painting.
What Factors Should You Consider when Choosing Acrylic Blank?
- Quality and strength
Can You Heat Acrylic blank to Bend it?
Yes, this is possible but you need special equipment to make it bend correctly.
Are Acrylic Blanks as Clear as Glass?
Yes, they are clear and has a great refractive index than glass.
What Temperature Can Make Acrylic Blank to Soften?
This is from 80°C going upwards.
Of course, other factors such as quality of acrylic may be a determining factor.
What Coolants Can You Use to Prevent Buildup of Heat in Acrylic Blanks?
- Water/air mist
- Soluble oils
- Compressed air
What Saws Are Suitable for Cutting Acrylic Blanks?
- Hack saws
- Power saws
- Band saws
- Jig saws
- Fret saws
What are the Recommendations when Screwing and Tapping Acrylic Blanks?
One can use standard taps, dies, and coarse threads are suitable.
What Shapes do Acrylic Blanks Come in?
One can customize as they come in different shapes.
It will all depend on your requirements and specifications.
At WeProFab, we help you get the best acrylic blanks, depending on your specific requirements and needs.
For any inquiries and questions on acrylic blanks, feel free to contact WeProFab team.