Description of Acrylic
Acrylic, or poly(methyl-methacrylate), is a transparent thermoplastic that has the transparency of glass at half the weight. Some of the key properties of Acrylic are optical clarity (clearer than polycarbonate), weather resistance, UV stability (does not yellow), impact resistance (many times greater than glass) and dimensional stability (does not shrink). There are three basic types of Acrylic: Cell Cast Acrylic, Continuous Cast Acrylic and Extruded Acrylic.
Common Names for Acrylic
Acrylic Sheet Fabrication and Processing
Acrylic sheets can be shaped using a variety of tools. The most common tools used with acrylic sheets for cutting, engraving, marking, photo imaging, scoring / scribing, beveling, or drilling include Digital Laser Material Processing Technology (DLMPT), routers, saws and waterjets. The chart below describes the material modification processes that are offered by each tool.
Images of Processed Acrylic Sheets
Digital laser material processing is a rapid transformation of digital information using non-contact (no cutters or tooling), highly accurate materials modification processes. The images below showcase the capabilities and detail possible with Digital Laser Material Processing Technology™ (DLMPT).
Laser Processing Advantages for Acrylic
Laser cutting leaves a smooth, flame polished edge on acrlyic sheets, which does not require any further processing. All other cutting methods for acrylic are mechanical. These methods leave a rough, opaque edge, which must be flame polished or mechanically polished to restore the smooth, clear edge.
Laser cutting can produce extremely intricate patterns due to the small diameter of the laser beam. Other methods are limited by the size of the mechanical blade or bit.
Laser engraving can produce much more complex and precise patterns than routers due to the extremely small size of the laser beam relative to cutting tools of routers.
Laser marking has the unique ability to frost the surface of acrylic, creating a bright white mark without any depth. This cannot be done with any mechanical method.
Laser Photo Imaging using the very small laser beam size allows intricate marking and engraving that enables laser photo imaging. Any photograph can be transformed into a laser image on acrylic.
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Processing Acrylic Sheets