Plexiglass and acrylic are two terms often used interchangeably, leading to confusion regarding their differences. The key difference between plexiglass and acrylic lies in the manufacturing process! Plexiglass is a brand name for acrylic, but plexiglass specifically refers to acrylic sheets made using the cell cast process, while acrylic encompasses a broader range of transparent thermoplastic homopolymers produced by various methods, including extrusion.

Now that you have learned the major difference between the two, get ready to dive deep and explore added distinctions, applications, and much more in this article.

plexiglass acrylic sheets

What is an Acrylic?

Acrylic, specifically clear acrylic, is a versatile thermoplastic known for its remarkable optical clarity. It’s derived from polymethyl methacrylate () and is created through various processes, with cast acrylic being one of the most common. This material finds extensive use across a multitude of applications due to its transparency and exceptional properties.

From protective screens and skylights to artistic displays and medical equipment, acrylic is the go-to choice when you need a clear, durable, and visually appealing material that brings your vision to life. Its adaptability and aesthetic qualities make it a favourite among designers, builders, and creators seeking both functionality and beauty in their projects.

Explore Acrylic Rand Tubes and a whole range of Acrylic products.

What is Plexiglass?

Plexiglass is a commonly used term that refers to transparent acrylic sheets. It was first introduced in 1933 by the American chemical company Rohm and Haas. These sheets are mostly produced through the same processes as acrylics, such as casting or extrusion. These sheets are renowned for their clarity and versatility. Available in various thicknesses, Plexiglas is used in a variety of applications, from protective barriers and signage to artistic displays and architectural elements.

It is used in various applications, including art displays, automotive windows, aquariums, medical equipment, aircraft canopies, and even the lenses of eyeglasses. due to its clarity and durability. It’s a versatile material employed in a wide range of industries and creative projects where transparency is essential.

Plexiglass vs. Acrylic sheet

1. Composition:

  • Plexiglass: It is composed of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), a transparent thermoplastic homopolymer. PMMA is derived from petrochemicals and is known for its optical clarity and durability. However, acrylic sheets can encompass various brands and manufacturing methods, including extruded and cell-cast acrylics, which may result in variations in quality and clarity.
  • Acrylic: Sheets of Acrylic, also referred to as Acrylic, is any sheet or panel made from acrylic material. It is also primarily composed of polymethyl methacrylate and shares the same chemical composition as Plexiglass.

2. Clarity and Transparency:

  • Plexiglass: Plexiglass is known for its exceptional clarity and transparency. It allows up to 92% of visible light to pass through, making it a popular choice for applications where optical clarity is crucial.
  • Acrylic: Acrylic sheets, in general, offer excellent transparency and optical properties. Different brands may have slightly different levels of clarity, but they all provide good visibility.

3. Impact Resistance:

  • Plexiglass: Plexiglass sheets are highly impact-resistant and can withstand forceful impacts without shattering. They are mostly used in applications where safety is a concern.
  • Acrylic: Acrylic sheets, as a group, are known for their impact resistance, but the level of resistance may vary depending on the specific formulation and manufacturer.

5. Use in Everyday Language:

  • Plexiglass: The term plexiglass is used colloquially to refer to any transparent acrylic sheet, regardless of the brand. It’s a widely recognised term.
  • Acrylic:  Acrylic is used and preferred in technical or industry-specific contexts. It is used to describe the broader category of transparent thermoplastics.


So, what’s the major difference between Acrylic and Plexiglass?

The major difference between Acrylic and Plexiglass lies in their Branding and Manufacturing processes! While both are composed of the same material, polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), Plexiglass is a specific brand name, whereas Acrylic is the generic term for any sheet made from PMMA. Plexiglass is produced through the cell cast process, ensuring exceptional clarity and quality, making it ideal for applications where optical perfection is crucial, like aquariums or optical lenses.

On the other hand, Acrylic encompasses various brands and production methods, including extruded acrylic and Perspex, offering a broader range of colours and uses but potentially with variations in clarity and quality. Lexan is a separate product, a polycarbonate, known for its lightweight and impact-resistant properties, distinct from both Plexiglass and Acrylic.


Branding/ Brand Names:

  • Acrylic: Acrylic is a generic term for the material and is widely available under different brand names, including Plexiglass, Lucite, Crylux, and more. These brand names mostly represent variations in quality, manufacturing processes, and specific applications.
  • Plexiglass: Plexiglass is a specific brand name owned by the company Arkema. While it’s often used colloquially to refer to acrylic sheets in general, it’s important to note that Plexiglass specifically refers to acrylic sheets produced through the cell cast process, known for their high optical clarity and quality.


Manufacturing Process:

  • Acrylic: Acrylic can be manufactured using various processes, including extrusion and cell casting. Extruded acrylic is produced by extruding melted acrylic resin through a die, creating sheets with consistent thickness. Cell cast acrylic, on the other hand, involves pouring liquid acrylic between glass plates, resulting in high-quality sheets.
  • Plexiglass: Plexiglass refers to acrylic sheets made using the cell cast process, ensuring clarity and minimal defects. Other acrylic sheets may not carry the Plexiglass brand.

Also Read: Difference between Plexiglass and Glass

Acrylic and Plexiglass: The pros and cons

Plexiglass and Acrylic, often used interchangeably, are versatile materials with distinct advantages and drawbacks. Both share a common composition of extruded acrylic. Both offer transparency and serve as a replacement for glass in various applications.

Acrylic glass is typically cost-effective, provides exceptional optical clarity- minimises glare, and is lighter than glass. However, it’s less impact-resistant compared to polycarbonate.  Plexiglass, a specific brand of acrylic, is renowned for consistent quality but might be pricier.

The main drawback for both is their susceptibility to scratching. While these materials excel in specific applications like signage, protective barriers, and artistic displays, they are not as durable as glass or polycarbonate in high-impact scenarios. Careful consideration of these pros and cons is vital for informed material selection.

Acrylic Plastic and Plexiglass: Their Common Applications

Acrylic and plexiglass encompass a wide range of uses. They are often used in DIY projects, where the material’s durability and ease of customisation are valued. Acrylic sheets find their way into home decor, screens, and panels. In construction, they serve as a clear or coloured panel option. Acrylic is also a popular choice for eyeglass lenses due to its optical clarity. In industrial settings, rod and tube forms are moulded for specific applications, while in art and design, it’s sculpted to create high-quality, impact-resistant displays.


Contact AnyShape for a Variety of Acrylic Sheet Grades and Colors!

Now that you know the difference between them, you know that Acrylic sheets offer endless possibilities. The right choice depends on your specific requirements. Whether you need customised sizes, FDA-compliant materials, or a range of colours, AnyShape Plastics has got you covered.

Experience the versatility of acrylic sheets and explore a spectrum of colours. Contact Us today to learn more about our offerings and find the perfect solution for your needs.

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