Acrylic vs. Plexiglass

What's the Difference?

Acrylic and Plexiglass are two commonly used materials in various industries. While they are often used interchangeably, there are some differences between the two. Acrylic is a type of plastic that is derived from acrylic acid, while Plexiglass is a brand name for a specific type of acrylic. In terms of properties, both materials are lightweight, durable, and transparent. However, Plexiglass is known for its superior clarity and resistance to UV radiation, making it a popular choice for outdoor applications. On the other hand, acrylic is more flexible and can be easily molded into different shapes, making it suitable for a wide range of applications such as signage, displays, and even furniture. Overall, both materials have their own unique advantages and are widely used depending on the specific requirements of the project.


Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash
CompositionPolymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)
TransparencyHigh transparencyHigh transparency
StrengthStrong and rigidStrong and rigid
Impact ResistanceLess impact resistant than glassLess impact resistant than glass
UV ResistanceGood UV resistanceGood UV resistance
Chemical ResistanceResistant to many chemicalsResistant to many chemicals
Scratch ResistanceProne to scratchingProne to scratching
PriceRelatively affordableRelatively affordable
ApplicationsSignage, displays, furnitureSignage, displays, furniture
Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

Further Detail


When it comes to choosing the right material for various applications, acrylic and plexiglass are two popular options that often come to mind. Both materials have their own unique attributes and advantages, making them suitable for different purposes. In this article, we will delve into the characteristics of acrylic and plexiglass, exploring their similarities and differences to help you make an informed decision.

Composition and Manufacturing

Acrylic, also known as polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), is a transparent thermoplastic derived from petroleum. It is made by polymerizing methyl methacrylate monomers through a process called free radical polymerization. On the other hand, plexiglass is a brand name for acrylic sheets, often used interchangeably with the term "acrylic." Plexiglass is manufactured by extruding or casting acrylic resin into sheets of varying thicknesses.

Both acrylic and plexiglass offer excellent optical clarity, allowing for high light transmission. They are also lightweight materials, making them easy to handle and install. Additionally, they are resistant to UV radiation, ensuring long-term durability and preventing yellowing or degradation when exposed to sunlight.

Strength and Durability

When it comes to strength, plexiglass generally has a slight advantage over acrylic. Plexiglass sheets tend to be more impact-resistant and less likely to shatter or break compared to acrylic. This makes plexiglass a preferred choice for applications where impact resistance is crucial, such as protective barriers, safety shields, or outdoor signage.

However, acrylic is not far behind in terms of durability. It still offers good impact resistance and is less prone to cracking than other materials like glass. Acrylic is also known for its excellent weatherability, making it suitable for outdoor applications where it can withstand harsh environmental conditions without significant degradation.

Flexibility and Formability

Acrylic and plexiglass both exhibit excellent flexibility and formability, allowing them to be shaped into various designs and configurations. They can be easily cut, drilled, and machined to meet specific requirements. Acrylic sheets can be heated and bent into curved shapes, while plexiglass can be thermoformed to create intricate designs.

Moreover, acrylic and plexiglass can be easily bonded using adhesives, making them suitable for applications that require seamless joints or complex assemblies. This versatility in formability and bonding options makes both materials popular choices in industries such as architecture, interior design, and signage.

Chemical Resistance

When it comes to chemical resistance, acrylic and plexiglass have similar properties. They are resistant to many chemicals, including alcohols, acids, and bases. However, they may not withstand prolonged exposure to certain solvents, such as acetone or gasoline, which can cause crazing or cracking.

It is important to note that while acrylic and plexiglass are resistant to chemicals, they can be prone to surface scratches. Therefore, it is recommended to handle and clean them with care, using non-abrasive materials and mild cleaning solutions to maintain their clarity and appearance.

Cost and Availability

When comparing the cost of acrylic and plexiglass, acrylic sheets are generally more affordable. Plexiglass, being a brand name, often carries a higher price tag due to its reputation and quality. However, the cost can vary depending on the thickness, size, and specific requirements of the project.

Both acrylic and plexiglass are widely available in various sizes and thicknesses. They can be purchased from local hardware stores, specialty plastic suppliers, or online retailers. It is important to ensure that you source the material from reputable suppliers to guarantee quality and authenticity.


Acrylic and plexiglass are versatile materials that offer a range of benefits for different applications. While plexiglass may have a slight advantage in terms of impact resistance, acrylic is still a durable and cost-effective option. Both materials provide excellent optical clarity, flexibility, and chemical resistance, making them suitable for various industries and projects.

Ultimately, the choice between acrylic and plexiglass depends on the specific requirements of your project, such as the need for impact resistance, budget constraints, or desired aesthetics. By understanding the attributes of both materials, you can make an informed decision and select the most suitable option for your application.

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