Plexiglass Introduction

In general, glass is cheaper to purchase than plexiglass, is more scratch resistant and more easily recycled. Plexiglass, on the other hand, is stronger, more shatter-resistant and resistant to the elements and erosion than glass. Plexiglass (also commonly spelled “plexiglas”) is a transparent, synthetic polymer used mostly as an alternative to glass. It also has a wide variety of other applications.

Composition
Plexiglass is a synthetic polymer (plastic). Its scientific name is polymethyl methacrylate, and is frequently abbreviated to PMMA and classified as a transparent thermoplastic. Since plexiglass is a plastic, it is a petroleum-based product. Glass is a amorphous (non-crystalline) solid, an inorganic compound that has cooled from a liquid to a solid without passing through a crystalline state. Glass is brittle, transparent and composed primarily of silicas.

History
Methacrylic acid was first synthesized in 1865. In 1877, German chemists discovered how to transform methyl methacrylate into polymethyl methacrylate. The substance was patented in 1933, and three years later mass production began. It immediately became popular and has remained so ever since.

Function
Acrylic glasses like Plexiglass are created using relatively complex chemical processes. Basically speaking, the synthesis process occurs through one of three separate methods: emulsion polymerization, bulk polymerization or solution polymerization. All of these processes can produce high-quality Plexiglas.

Uses
Plexiglass is widely used as a durable, shatter-resistant alternative to glass. It is also used in medical applications, such as in prostheses. You will find it in a wide range of consumer products, such as picture frames, musical instruments and fashion accessories.

Cost
Standard glass is cheaper than clear acrylic sheets. However, prices will depend not just on size and thickness, but also on added features such as UV-cut and glare-reduction coatings. In general, when comparing sheets of glass and plexiglass offering the same benefits, the glass option will be cheaper. However, given that methyl methacrylate(C5H8O2, CAS No. 80-62-6) is more resistant to weathering and erosion than glass, long-term maintenance and replacement costs can become significantly cheaper with plexiglass.

Others
Clear acrylic sheets are much easier to cut than glass sheets. Plexiglass can be cut a wide variety of shapes to fit the user’s needs. Glass can be recycled cheaply numerous times. Plexiglass (since it involves the use of petrochemicals) is more difficult, and therefore more expensive, to recycle.

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