FAQ / Troubleshooting
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  • What is acrylic made of?
  • Acrylic is a transparent thermoplastic known as polyacrylate and is derived from natural-gas. It is a composition of Methyl Methacrylate (MMA) and Poly Methyl Methacrylate (PMMA) resin. In short, it’s a petroleum-based product, so petroleum solvents and chemicals should always be avoided to prevent marking the surface.
  • What are the differences between extruded acrylic and cast acrylic sheets?
  • There are few differences between the physical properties of Cast Perspex Acrylic and Extruded Perspex Acrylic sheets. Both show excellent resistance to natural ageing. The main differences lie in their thermal and chemical properties and the way they are processed and used. The two materials are different in nature and respond differently to certain processes.

    The Cast manufacturing process leads to slight variations in the thickness of sheets whereas the thickness of Extruded sheet varies very little, if at all. Cast has an isotropic response to temperature with a maximum shrinkage of 2% in all directions. However, the extrusion process applied to Extruded sheet leads to differences in shrinkage depending on the thickness and direction of extrusion.

    Extruded acrylic sheet has reduced mechanical properties, however it does give process advantages when heating, bending and vacuum forming, and has a better thickness tolerance than cast acrylic sheet. Extruded sheets are ideal for general glazing applications and the much lower viscosity when hot, makes it more ductile than Cast Acrylic.

    Cast Acrylic sheets offer greater thermal stability and better resistance to crazing when exposed to solvents. The thermoforming range for cast sheets is wider. They can be reworked hot, which is not always possible with extruded sheets. The surface finish, flatness and optical properties of Cast Acrylic are all superior to those of Extruded Acrylic sheets.
  • How do I clean acrylic?
  • Acrylic care consists of no more than normal wipe-cleaning to keep it looking new. Chemicals should never be used, and care should be taken to avoid scratches. See our Product Care page for complete recommendations.
  • Will acrylic melt?
  • While acrylic softens at higher temperatures, it does not actually melt until it reaches 320 °F (160 °C). Therefore, normal household use does not risk melting acrylic. Hot stovetop items should only be placed on an acrylic tabletop surface using a protective trivet or other padding, preferably with rubber cushions. As a safety precaution, never place acrylic directly on or next to an open flame or hot surface.
  • What is the softening temperature of acrylic sheet?
  • It will soften if heated above 80 C. Considerable heat can be generated by machining, causing stress, so it is therefore very important that heat build-up is kept to a minimum.
  • Can acrylic be painted?
  • Yes, you can paint acrylic using, obviously, acrylic paint.
  • Does acrylic ‘outgas’ or can it be toxicologically harmful?
  • No – when used for as directed and in ambient temperatures, acrylic does not pose hazardous nor toxicological effects to health. This material has been classified as non-hazardous under OSHA regulations.
  • What type of coolants can be used to prevent heat buildup in acrylic?
  • Various coolants can be used including water and water/air mists, soluble oils and compressed air. Soluble oils must be oil-in-water emulsions and must not contain solvents which may cause stress cracking.
  • What cutting tools can be used on perspex acrylic sheets?
  • To achieve a good finish all cutting tools must be kept sharp. Most hand tools designed for use with wood or soft metals are suitable for use with acrylic except laminate cutters, guillotines and blanking dies. Most power tools can be used and HSS tools bits are suitable to achieve a good cut finish. For lengthy runs, tungsten carbide tipped blades and tool bits are recommended for long life.
  • Can you laser cut acrylic sheets?
  • Yes, they may be laser cut to achieve very complex and intricate shapes.
  • What is recommended when drilling holes in acrylic sheets?
  • Standard woodworking twist drills can be used for all normal drilling work with perspex acrylic. Whenever possible, the work should be supported by a back stop made from either scrap acrylic or hard wood to prevent splintering the exit hole. Under no circumstances should a centre punch be used before drilling. A small pilot hole should be drilled first to locate the drill. Coolants are strongly recommended for any deep drilling into acrylic and time must be allowed to remove swarf from the drill at regular intervals. Alternatively, we can do the drilling for you.
  • What is recommended when screwing and tapping acrylic sheets?
  • Standard taps and dies may be used for cutting screw threads in acrylic but whenever possible, coarse threads are preferred as they are less liable to damage. Threads must not be overstressed and it is not advisable to thread acrylic if frequent dismantling is likely. In such conditions, threaded metal inserts are recommended.
  • What type of polishing services are available?
  • We can offer Power Buffing, Diamond Polishing and Flame Polishing services. Diamond Polishing can be used for straight edges and gives excellent results without the rounded edges often produced by buffing. Flame Polishing is ideal for polishing thin edges of acrylic, especially clear extruded sheet for point-of-sale items because its fast and effective. For a ultimate high gloss finish and for bespoke acrylic shapes we can also hand polish the acrylic parts.
  • What fire rating are acrylic sheets?
  • Acrylic sheets achieves a UK Class 3 fire rating.
  • What can you use to bond acrylic onto acrylic?
  • Tensol 12 is a single component cement which hardens due to solvent evaporation to produce a clear bond in cast acrylic sheets. Tensol 12 is only recommended for internal signage and low strength bonds. Tensol 70 is a two part catalyst cement which cures at ambient temperatures to produce high strength bonds to acrylic sheet and offers excellent weathering resistance. You can purchase both tensol adhesives from us.
  • What is the difference between transparent, translucent and opaque?
  • Transparent: Allowing light to pass through so that objects behind can be distinctly seen.
    Translucent: Allowing light, but not detailed images, to pass through.
    Opaque: Not able to be seen through; no light passes through.
  • Does your acrylic sheet filter UV light?
  • Ultraviolet (UV) light wavelengths are in the range between 200-400nm. Our extruded (FF) acrylic sheet and non-glare (P99) acrylic sheet start transmitting light at around 345nm. Based on that number, they filter out about 85% of UV light between 200-400nm.

    Our UV filtering (OP3) and (OP2) acrylic sheet filter about 98% of UV light.
  • Which side of our UV filtering (OP3) should face the artwork?
  • The UV protection afforded by our UV filtering (OP3) is uniform throughout the acrylic sheet, which means it will protect the artwork regardless of which side faces out.
  • Which side of your acrylic sheet do I digital print on?
  • You should print on the side with the white reclingable poly masking. A clear adhesive poly is on the non-printed side
  • What type of saw blade is used to cut acrylic sheet?
  • A 10" carbide tipped circular saw with 80 teeth.
  • Can you cement acrylic shapes?
  • Yes. You can cement them to many different materials using the appropriate adhesive. Please refer to our adhesives chart for specific information.
  • Help! My plastic is scratched!
  • When your beautiful piece of Xintao® acrylic scratches, you can fix it quickly! If you can't feel the scratch with your fingernail, then Novus® #2 or #3 should restore the finish. Otherwise, you will need to sand and buff the area that is scratched to return the shine (see the Solution in the next paragraph). It's the same way we polish the edges of thick pieces of acrylic here – it works! This procedure ONLY works on acrylic. It does not work on styrene (like the colored boxes we sell) or on polycarbonate. They both look clear, but they cannot be restored. Ask about our Abrasion Resistant coatings.
  • Are acrylic shapes available in different colors?
  • Yes they are available in different colors - however, minimum order requirements may apply.
  • What if I have a deep scratch in my plastic?
  • Sand the scratch with a #400 grit sand paper. Once the scratch is removed, wet sand with a #600 grit sand paper. Buff out using 3M® super duty rubbing compound and a high speed bonnet buffer. Buff out with a fine polish such as 3M® finess-it-II or Mequiars® #17 clear plastic polish and a high speed bonnet buffer.
  • How can you drill a hole in acrylic sheet without cracking the material around the hole?
  • The material cracks because the drill speed is too fast or there is too much pressure on the drill when exiting the hole at the underside of the acrylic sheet. Back up the work area with another piece of acrylic or plywood so then the drill can continue through into solid material. If using a commercially available twist drill, make sure it is ground to a proper angle of 60-90 degrees.
  • There’s a crack in my plastics! What do I do?
  • There is nothing more frustrating than a crack in a piece of acrylic sheet. Because this materials is "notch sensitive". By the way, so is glass! That's why you can scribe and break glass (and Plexiglas®) along the scribe. These materials have no grain and therefore cracks can travel as they please. However, cracks can be stopped with a simple procedure. Using a very small drill bit, (1/16″ or so) drill a hole through the material at the end of the crack. That's it. If it is a long crack, you might be able to inject some IPS WeldOn® #3 (Methylene Chloride) into the crack to partially seal it. If the plastic is on a sign, and therefore most likely opaque, you should glue a 1" strip of 3/16" to the back side to reinforce the cracked area.
  • How can you cut or scribe one piece of acrylic sheet properly?
  • Use a Fletcher Terry Knife or a plastic cutting tool when cutting the sheet. This method can be used for sheet thicknesses of .250" and thinner. Scribing the sheet should be done at least 7 to 12 times for .250" material and 5 to 7 times for .187" materials and under. It is best to support the bottom of the sheet on both sides of the score line. After the part is scribed and broken, the edges should be finished.
  • Can I get cast acrylic in colors?
  • Yes, cast acrylic sheet, extruded acrylic sheet, PS sheet, acrylic tube and rod are available in a variety of colors. Please call for availability and pricing.
  • What masking is used for laser cutting acrylic and mirror?
  • 3mil polyfilm or papermask.
  • Hey - This sticker won't come off my plastic!
  • Don’t you just hate it when those price tags don’t come off a plastic item? The problem is that the adhesive either dries out or the wrong kind of adhesive was used on the price tag. In any case, you need to find a way to get the darn thing off your plastic.

    Solution: The simple way to take a "stuck" sticker off of plastic is by moistening the price tag with Lighter Fluid – which is actually a very refined grade of kerosene! This will not bother Acrylic, Styrene or Polycarbonate plastics which will be 90% of the types you will be dealing with. If in doubt, test the fluid on small part of the plastic. Look at it in 24 hours. Remember that you could scratch the plastic when rubbing the price tag loose. Easy does it.
  • Are the edges of your acrylic sheet too sharp?
  • Our saws and routers leave nice chip-free edges on the pieces of we cut. On edges that will be exposed to the touch, beware. While this edge is not sharp like glass, if you run your hand down the edge quickly, and with pressure, you may get a "paper-cut" type of injury.

    Solution: Use #100 grit sandpaper and a sanding block. Just pass the sandpaper over the edges at a 45 degree angle a few times. Use your fingers to test the edge. When it feels good, stop!
  • Will acrylic and Polystyrene burn if a flame is pressed against them?
  • Acrylic will ignite and burn if placed in an open flame. Polystyrene will smoke.

    What film coverage is best when routing acrylic sheet?

    Papermask, 2mil film & 3mil laser films are preferred.
  • How do you clean acrylic sheet?
  • Use a mild soap & water mixture with a gentle cleaning cloth. Do not use ammonia based cleaning solutions on the acrylic as it will eat into the sheet and cause it to craze.
  • How do you remove solvent cement from acrylic sheet?
  • Once applied, you will not be able to remove solvent cement from the acrylic. Solvent cement eats into acrylic; any excess would evaporate, leaving a slight outline where the solvent was located. You might try buffing to smooth the surface.
  • How do I remove the papermask from acrylic sheet when it is adhered too firmly?
  • Use water to wet the papermasking and then peel back, or add a mixture of a small of rubbing alcohol to water and spray onto the papermask. After the solution is applied, gently pull back from acrylic sheet.
  • How can I finish pieces cut from acrylic rod stock to match the clarity of the uncut surface?
  • Sand with successively finer grades of sandpaper and finish polish with buffing wheel and plastic polish or jeweler’s rouge.
  • Can I glue plastic?
  • One of the really great properties of some plastics is their resistance to chemicals. Plastics that can be dissolved by a chemical are generally glueable, while those that are not dissolved cannot be glued. A quick test you can do at home – find some nail-polish remover (acetone) and test a very small area on the plastic you would like to glue. If it gets sticky, then Emco Plastics has a solvent adhesive that will work! If the acetone simply dries up, you have a problem. Your choices will be; mechanically fasten the plastic, ultra-sonic welding, or hot-air welding. Most chemical tanks are made of polypropylene or polyethylene and will not glue. PVC and ABS will glue (like your sprinkler pipes). Engineering plastics for the most part cannot be glued with adhesive, unless a contact adhesive is acceptable for your application. Please talk to our sales people about our Adhesive Cross-Reference chart that will help you select the right adhesive for your application.
  • What is the correct glue to use when gluing 2 edges of acrylic sheet together?
  • WELDON® 3.
  • Can you glue edges of flame polished acrylic sheet?
  • No, the parts will craze (generate small cracks) due to the heat used to flame the edges.
  • Can you tell me what the difference is between cast acrylic rod, sheet and tube vs. extruded types?
  • Sheet, rod and tube in acrylic materials are available in both extruded and cast grades, the selection of which should be determined by the quality level desired when compared to cost considerations. When cast acrylic materials are manufactured they are manufactured from raw monomer which is cast or poured into molds. Once cured, the material is often ground and then repolished to finished dimensions. Casting is the more expensive of the two processes, but yields a better quality product. Extruded acrylic materials, on the other hand, are manufactured by pushing acrylic pellets through a highly polished extrusion die to produce a finished product. Die marks and other slight imperfections may make extruded sheet, rod, and tube somewhat less desirable for critical applications. The process is less expensive however, and the quality is perfectly acceptable for most applications.
  • Is acrylic tubing affected by water over a long period of time?
  • No, neither prolonged exposure to moisture nor total immersion will cause warping, swelling or loss of clarity.
  • In how large of an outside diameter is available cast acrylic tubing available?
  • You can get up to a 96″ diameter in cast acrylic tubing.
  • What are some of the mechanical properties of acrylic tube?
  • Acrylic tube is less than half the weight of glass and only 43% the weight of aluminum. Acrylics are unaffected by aqueous solutions of detergents, cleaners, alkalis and aliphatic hydrocarbons.
  • What are some methods of fabricating acrylic tube?
  • In order to achieve clean cuts and easy finishing, cut acrylic tube with carbide tools. The cut surfaces can be wet or dry sanded to smooth saw cuts then buffed and polished for clear finish.
  • Can hardcoated sheet be glued?
  • No, the hardcoat will resist adhesive chemicals.
  • Can hardcoated sheet be screen-printed?
  • No, standard inks will not adhere to the coating. Contact your ink supplier for possible ink alternatives.
  • Can you flame polish an AR coated sheet?
  • No, flame polishing an AR coated acrylic sheet will cause it to blush or whiten.
  • Can acrylic mirror be die cut?
  • No, only PETG and polycarbonate mirrors (up to .080″ in thickness) can be die cut.
  • What about polishing mirror edges?
  • Sanding the edges of acrylic mirror with successively finer grades of sandpaper and then buffing them with polishing compound works well.
  • How can scratches in the paint backing be prevented from showing thru the front?
  • Minor scratches can be repaired on the backside by applying a small amount of argent (silver metallic) paint over the scratch.
  • What is the reflectivity of your acrylic mirror?
  • Approximately 85-90%.
  • Is your acrylic mirror thermoformable?
  • It is not recommended. The acrylic will stretch and the backing will fail. Shallow depths may work. Plastic sheet should be formed then plated.
  • I've noticed different colors on the backs of mirror. Is there any significance to this?
  • Manufacturers sometimes use different color backings to differentiate and identify their products. Regardless of the color, the backing serves to protect the mirror from scratches in transportation and fabrication.
  • How can you mount your acrylic mirror?
  • Mount to a smooth, rigid flat backing such as 5/8″ or 3/4″ plywood. The surface should be coated with a high quality paint or sealant to cover pockets and seal out moisture. Next, cover the surface with mastic or adhesive.
  • Can your acrylic mirror be heat bent?
  • Yes, however, the mirror may blush at the bend especially when exposed to prolonged heat. Try samples for testing. Please refer to the User's Manual for instructions.
  • What fire ratings does your acrylic mirror meet?
  • The acrylic for our mirror sheet meets a C2 fire rating by ICBO. Polycarbonate meets C1.
  • How can scratches on the front side of a mirror be repaired?
  • Minor scratches can be subdued by polishing with wax. Larger scratches can be treated with a lamb’s wool pad and buffing with a light abrasive rubbing compound.
  • Can mirroring be used for outdoor applications?
  • Outdoor use is not recommended due to expansion, contraction and moisture. If outside use is desired, seal the perimeter with silicon sealant and protect paint backing.
  • What adhesives are recommended for outdoor mirror applications?
  • Palmer Mirro-Mastic®, Super Set Mirro-Mastic®, 3M® 4323, and Gunther Premier or Pro-Mastic®. If a spray adhesive is needed, 3M® Super 77 may be used. Please follow your adhesive supplier’s directions for gluing.