In everyday usage, “plexiglass” is often mistakenly used as a term to describe all types of acrylic glass products from different manufacturers. This inaccuracy can be problematic when it comes to product procurement. When it comes to planning and constructing high-quality products, the difference between PLEXIGLAS® and “plexiglass” is a significant one. Discover here why it is so important to distinguish the brand from the generalized term.
A brand name as a generic name
In 1932, Röhm & Haas produced the first cast sheet of polymethyl methacrylate, PMMA for short, and just one year later, a stable, transparent and break-proof polymer, which was registered under the brand name of PLEXIGLAS®. PLEXIGLAS® ruled the market at the time and quickly became widely recognized. The undesired side-effect was that consumers began calling the acrylic glass from other manufacturers “plexiglass”, which meant the PLEXIGLAS® brand suffered a similar fate as Kleenex® (paper tissues), Thermos® (vacuum flask) and Band-Aid® (sticking plasters). However, PLEXIGLAS® is and remains a brand product with diverse properties, which provides tailored solutions for many sectors.
As a brand, PLEXIGLAS® represents the quality of products which are subjected to particularly high requirements. The brand acrylic glass from Evonik is one of the highest quality and most adaptable acrylic glasses in the world. One of its defining quality features is its transparency of over 90 percent (colorless material). This means PLEXIGLAS® lets light pass through, while simultaneously providing protection from the harmful effects of UV radiation. The most effective UV protection is namely not a material which is applied as a layer, a common practice in the market, but is inherent to the material itself. Specialists in the field describe this as a “naturally UV-stable technology”. This means that PLEXIGLAS® consists entirely of extremely strong and UV-stable molecules. So both the surface and the entire material is protected against the harmful effects of UV rays. The brand acrylic glass therefore guarantees that colorless original PLEXIGLAS® sheets and pipes will not yellow for 30 years and will maintain their transparency.
Cast or extruded semi-finished goods and granulates
Transparency and UV protection are only two of the excellent properties inherent to PLEXIGLAS®. Over the years, the product portfolio has been continuously expanded and diversified. Today, the PLEXIGLAS® brand offers both cast and extruded solid sheets, as well as pipes, rods and films. During the manufacturing process of cast PLEXIGLAS®, liquid methyl methacrylate (MMA) is poured between two glass sheets. Under the influence of heat, the liquid MMA then polymerizes, which means it hardens. Extruded PLEXIGLAS® XT is produced from polymerized methyl methacrylate granulate, which is manufactured by the same company and sold under the same brand name. This product is melted in an extruder and can then be extruded into different shapes, such as solid or multi-skin sheets, rods or pipes.
The PLEXIGLAS® granulate is not only ideal for extrusion, however. The different products from the PLEXIGLAS® molding compounds portfolio all possess different physical properties, such as flow plasticity or heat deflection temperature and can be processed using all common thermoplastic procedures, including procedures such as injection molding.
Diverse and universally applicable
Cast, extruded and injection-molded PLEXIGLAS® products all undergo different manufacturing processes, however, they are similar with regard to their extraordinary properties. The brand acrylic glass is not only highly transparent, but is, in its purest form, completely colorless, which means it can be dyed very precisely. The solid sheets are not only currently available in over 80 colors, but also with different surfaces, high functionalities and many special properties. Some variants are extraordinarily good at conducting light, while others are able to withstand extreme pressures, while others still provide protection from heat or sound. Thanks to its diversity, PLEXIGLAS® provides inspirational design and application ideas for different sectors.