At Advanced Plastiform, Inc. we are proud to be a leading custom plastics manufacturer, serving a variety of industries across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states. In addition to having innovative equipment and an experienced team dedicated to ensuring accurate, durable finished products, we know that the materials we use matter. We offer a variety of high-quality thermoplastics so we can pair the ideal material to the project to guarantee the best result. One plastic we use often is acrylic.
What Is Acrylic?
Acrylic is a transparent thermoplastic made from acrylic acid that is primarily used as a shatter-resistant, inexpensive alternative to glass. In fact, acrylic is ten times more impact resistant than glass, and because there are numerous polymer grades available, it can be customized to be mirrored, translucent, tinted, or have added heat and impact resistance. During extrusion, various coatings can be applied to the acrylic sheet, offering finished specifications such as:
- Scratch Resistance
- Anti-Fogging Properties
- Reduced Glare
- Ultraviolet Light Filtering
Acrylic offers the following properties:
- Shatter resistance
- Impact resistance
- Easy to fabricate and thermoform
- Does not yellow after long periods of UV exposure
- Highly durable
Acrylic thermoforming is the process of heating the sheet of acrylic until it’s flexible, then shaping it around a custom designed aluminum tool. From that point, we use one of three types of thermoforming methods to complete the shaping process. Because of the ease of design and low cost of tooling, this is a much more affordable method of acrylic plastic manufacturing and offers a faster lead time than injection molding.
Vacuum forming is the simplest method of thermoforming, which is why it is often the most affordable and quickest option. Once the acrylic is heated and fitted around the mold, we use a powerful vacuum to suction out any air between the plastic and mold, pulling it firmly against the shape. Vacuum forming is the best option for products that don’t require sharp corners or crisp detail, making it ideal for manufacturing signs, shelving, and even windshields and windows on golf carts.
When the product needed has sharp edges and corners, we use pressure forming. After heating and fitting the acrylic, we use highly pressurized air to push it firmly into the tool. Because it offers three times the pressure of vacuum forming, we can use pressure forming to create sharp edges and corners and improved detail for items like retail displays and table tops.
For cylinders and double walled products, we often use twin sheet forming. This complex thermoforming method requires heating two sheets of acrylic simultaneously, then fitting and fusing them together precisely at specific pressed points.
Acrylic Injection Molding
For smaller parts and components, we use acrylic injection molding. Acrylic is heated to a liquid, then injected into a custom mold with a high pressure injection tool. Because designing and creating the tool requires more time and heavy-duty, expensive materials,, the initial lead time and tooling cost is greater than thermoforming However, tooling is a one-time cost, so for large quantities and repeat orders, acrylic injection molding can provide a low per-unit cost.
What Is Acrylic Used For?
Because acrylic is clear, durable, and shatter resistant, it can be used as a replacement for glass in many situations, and is often used to make:
- Signs and sign holders
- Retail displays and shelves
- Brochure holders
- TV screens
- Submarine windows and aquarium tanks
Contact Us for High Impact Polystyrene Manufacturing
Acrylic thermoforming and injection molding allow us to create custom plastics that are often used as safer, more durable alternatives to glass for all types of industries. With the best materials and innovative equipment and technology, we’re a leading plastics manufacturer, serving businesses across North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia.