Custom Cut Acrylic: The Ultimate FAQ Guide

What Is Acrylic?

It is a transparent thermoplastic homopolymer popular for its incredible strength and excellent impact resistance.

In some instances, it is known as plexiglass and looks more or less similar to polycarbonate material.

What Is Custom Cut Acrylic?

It is the process of slicing, splitting, or piercing acrylic material to produce dimensions, shapes, or styles that suit a specific application.

This is a common fabrication process and a type of molding technique used for creating different objects out of this material.

custom cut acrylic

custom cut acrylic

Mostly, the custom cut acrylic pieces are often joined to different acrylic or any other material pieces to create a single functional substantive object.

Types Of Acrylic Sheet

Acrylic material are available in two major varieties and are used in a wide range of applications.

However, these two acrylic materials have a slightly different chemistry compositions and including the manufacturing process.

Here are the types of acrylic materials available;

· Cast Acrylic Sheet

It is acrylic variant created from liquid ingredients mixture in glass molds.

Process of creating cast acrylic is costly and labor intensive but produces a harder and stronger homogenous product.

cast acrylic sheet

cast acrylic sheet

You can find it in various standards and custom colors, making it easy for multiple applications.

· Extruded Acrylic Sheet

It is manufactured from continuous manufacturing production that involves heating monomers and feeding them through barrels for chemical processes to take place.

This process thus creates heterogeneous material with different properties depending on the extrusion direction.

extruded acrylic sheet

extruded acrylic sheet

This acrylic variant is relatively inexpensive and offers more dimensional stability than cast acrylic.

It features exceptional optical clarity, excellent electrical and UV resistance, and high impact resistance.

Methods of Custom Cut Acrylic

You can use several approaches to custom cut acrylic material depending on the variant, desired shape, and required tools.

The process for cutting this material varies, and each method offers different advantages and disadvantages.

Here are the notable techniques used in custom cut acrylic;

Laser Cutting Acrylic Sheet

It is the most preferred custom cut acrylic method used in the present era.

This method involves use of computer graphic programs and carbon dioxide cutting machines.

The computer-controlled machines are the determinant elements of how and where an interface is integrated into acrylic.

Using a laser cutter is straightforward, and it entails printing out a vector graphic from a computer connected to a printer.

In a few minutes, a perfect graphics copy is cut out of acrylic material with precision-cut and clean edges.

This custom-cut acrylic method allows a significant amount of creativity in cutting this material, including fine details and cut-outs rarely achieved with other techniques.

Hand Saw

You can custom cut acrylic by hand using a hand saw, albeit it is time-consuming and eventually requires thorough polishing to attain clarity and sheen.

In this instance, you have to work with a saw with a high number of teeth per inch.

hand saw

hand saw

While at it, you must clamp the sheet firmly in position to reduce vibration and minimize chipping.

Band Saw

This is the ideal custom cut acrylic method for attaining a unique shape or curved edge.

An ideal way of attaining best results using a band saw is ensuring you cut thicker acrylic material using a blade with less teeth per inch and vice versa.

band saw

band saw

It is recommended to place stiff-bristle brushes when cutting acrylic sheets to touch the tires driving the blade.

Jig Saw

This is a handheld device used for preparing, cutting, and caring for acrylic material.

When custom cut acrylic, ensure you choose a blade with sharp and reduced depth teeth.

While at it, experiment with speed gradually before making the final cut.

jig saw

jig saw

Using jig saw to cut acrylic is advantageous since it makes it easy to cut shapes with rounded edges.

But you must moderate cutting speed because if too slow can melt the material and apply too much pressure that can make edges chip.

Score And Break

It is an ideal custom cut acrylic technique for relatively thin sheets.

Using sharp scoring tools allows you to create a clean break in acrylic sheet.

It is recommended to score about 1/8th of the way through acrylic material; hence more than one pass will be necessary.

Ensure you score from both sides of the acrylic material where possible to make it easier to snap and break cleaner.

score and break

score and break

Applications Of Custom Cut Acrylic

The essence of custom cutting acrylic enables you to find the right size and shape that suits your respective application.

Hence, you can use this type of acrylic in a wide range of applications, but the common ones include the following;

Signage

A wide range of lit signage used in marketing and advertisement industries are designed from custom cut acrylic.

This material provides the best signage that allows the target audience or market to identify the product, service, or business easily.

Marine Industry

Often, several submarine windows are designed and crafted from custom cut acrylic pieces.

Ideally, this material offers unique properties such as water resistance and high optical clarity, which enable explorers to have a wonderful experience in the aquatic world.

Building & Construction

Acrylic material is naturally strong and has excellent impact resistance.

Hence, it is a common choice for a wide range of commercial and structural glazing solutions.

In different structures, custom cut acrylic pieces create weather and storm-resistant windows and skylights.

For such materials to fit accordingly, it is important that they are cut accordingly.

Wall Shelves

Nowadays, most wall shelves used in commercial and residential settings are made from acrylic material.

They come in different dimensions hence need to be cut to attain the right size for the specific application.

This makes it easy to install them and ensure they fit properly based on the measurements.

Light Fittings

Custom cut acrylic is used when making different light fixtures, privacy glazing, and diffusers.

It makes it easy to cut the material into such desired shapes effectively using relevant power or a hand-held tool.

Home Improvement Projects

Most DIY projects revolving around use of acrylic material are usually cut to size to fit the specific application.

Components such as furniture, kitchen décor, cabinets, storage facilities, etc., require careful measurement and cutting of the acrylic material.

Hence, it becomes easier to apply this process to attain the best results in your DIY fixtures.

Photo Frames

You will always find acrylic photo frames of different sizes, shapes, and designs.

It means they are cut into such dimensions depending on the provided measurements.

Tips To Avoid Cracking Or Breaking Acrylic As You Custom Cut

Acrylic is a durable material but not necessarily unbreakable.

Some ideas to implement to prevent acrylic from breaking or cracking when custom cutting are as follows;

  • Use the Correct Blade

Irrespective of whether you are using a handheld or power tool in custom cut acrylic process, it is advisable to ensure the blade is sharp.

Dull blades usually fight against the material surface and possibly cause cracks, breaks, and overly rough cut edges.

  • Ensure the Plastic Film Stays On

Acrylic often comes with a thin plastic layer designed to prevent scratches as material moves from the manufacturer to the retailer and end-user.

When measuring the material for subsequent cutting, leave the plastic film on to prevent your cutting tools from scratching the material surface.

  • Keep The Blade Cool

In many instances, an overheated blade on a power-cutting tool can easily cause acrylic to break or crack when cutting.

Once you leave the thin plastic film on the material surface, it acts as a lubricant to some extent.

However, when the blade starts overheating, it is advisable to pause the process, turn off the power tool and allow it to cool.

  • Score Deep

When using a knife-like box cutter to cut acrylic, ensure to score a straight, deep line before trying to break the material at the specified mark.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does It Cost To Cut Acrylic?

The actual cost of cutting and scoring acrylic depends on various factors, such as linear scoring or cutting distance.

Besides, the preferred service provider also determines the exact cost depending on the complexity or simplicity of the desired results.

Is Acrylic Hard To Cut?

Ideally, acrylic material is synthetic, and sometimes attaining a clean cut can be challenging.

Thus, you require absolute patience and the right cutting tools to get the best results possible.

Can You Cut Acrylic With Circuit Machines?

It is possible to custom cut acrylic using circuit machines.

However, this machine, in many instances, can only cut acrylic with a thickness of less than .02mm.

How Do You Cut Thick Acrylic?

A jig saw is the best way to cut a relatively thick acrylic sheet.

It should, however, be outfitted with a special blade designed for cutting acrylic since this allows you to attain clean cuts on the first attempt.

Is It Safe To Laser Cut Acrylic?

Acrylic is one of the thermoplastic materials approved safe to laser cut and provides the best and most accurate results.

Related Resources:

Cutting Acrylic Sheet

Plastic Sheet Cut To Size

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