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Offering exceptional optical clarity, clear acrylics are used in a myriad of applications from glazing to picture frames to displays. Acrylic is a relatively rigid plastic that cuts and machines well with fine-toothed, carbide tipped blades and router bits. Acrylic comes with a protective masking, either paper or poly, which should be left on until installation is complete. Acrylic is manufactured in three types: (1) extruded, (2) continous cast, and (3) cast.
Extruded acrylic is the most common and least expensive version of acrylic. In simple terms, extruded acrylic is manufactured by extruding acrylic resin through rollers which are set at the desired thickness into large ribbons which are then cut and trimmed into the desired sheet size. Because set up is onerous, large runs are produced to optimize efficiencies thus creating the least expensive acrylic option.
Continous cast acrylic is processed similar to extruded acrylic with the difference being that the desired thickness is acheived by the resin passing through highly polished metal plates which creates the most uniformly thick sheet. Continous cast sheet is vary stable and has excellent clarity and is the best for thermoforming applications.
Cast acrylic is poured directly into molds creating the most dimensionally stable acrylic with the best optical clarit; however, cast acrylic has the widest tolerance in sheet thickness.