Acrylic is a polymer created when giant carbon molecules combine chemically. Finished acrylic sheet exhibits glass-like qualities – clarity, brilliance, transparency, translucence – but at half the weight and up to 10 times the impact resistance. It can be tinted or colored, mirrored or made opaque. A number of coatings can be applied to a sheet or finished part for performance enhancing characteristics such as scratch resistance, anti-fogging, glare reduction and solar reflective.
Acrylic sheets are used to make various products, such as shower doors, bath enclosures, windows and skylights. It is chosen over glass for many reasons. It is many times stronger than glass, making it much more impact resistant and therefore safer. Falling against an acrylic shower door will not likely break it. Baseballs that crash through glass windows will, in most cases, bounce off acrylic windows. Acrylic also insulates better than glass, potentially saving on heating bills.
Another great advantage of acrylic is that it is only half as heavy as glass. This makes working with acrylic much easier. It can also be sawed, whereas glass must be scored. Adding to this favorable array of properties, a transparency rate of 93% makes acrylic sheets the clearest material known. Very thick glass will have a green tint, while acrylic remains clear.