Trademarks include Perspex – Plexiglass
Characteristics of the material
Acrylic is half the weight of glass, impact resistant, unaffected by sun or salt spray. It has a temperature range of -10°C to +55°C for continuous service.
Wash with mild soap or detergent, with plenty of lukewarm water, dry with soft cloth or chamois. Grease, oil or tar can be removed with kerosene. Solvent residue should be removed by washing immediately. Do not use window cleaning sprays, scouring compounds, acetone, petrol, benzene, carbon tetrachloride or lacquer thinners.
When working with the material, leave the paper or plastic masking film on the sheet as long as possible. Except for intricate detail work you should remove the masking only when your project is completed. Never leave the masking exposed to sunlight or water.
Working with acrylic sheet
Keep masking on as long as possible. Use metal cutting saw blades and drills which are ground and sharpened specifically for acrylic sheet. Make sure all tools are sharp. Use water or drilling oil as a coolant when cutting sheets over 3.0mm thick or drilling sheets over 4.5mm thick. Wet the material before cleaning.
Use saw blades with side-set teeth. Saw teeth ideally should be ground with 0° of rake and be of uniform height and shape.
Cutting Acrylic Sheet with a knife or scriber
Acrylic sheet up to 4.5 mm thick may be cut by a method similar to that used to cut glass. Use a scribing knife, a metal scriber, an awl, or a utility knife to score the sheet. Draw the scriber several times (7 or 8 times for a 4.5 mm sheet) along a straight edge held firmly in place. Then clamp the sheet or hold it rigidly under a straight edge with the scribe mark hanging just over the edge of a table. Apply a sharp downward pressure to break the sheet along the scribe line. Scrape the edges to smooth any sharp corners. This method is not recommended for long breaks or thick material.
Cutting with power saws
Special blades are available to cut acrylic. Otherwise use blades designed to cut aluminium or copper. Teeth should be fine, of the same height, evenly spaced, with little or no set.
Table and circular saws
Use hollow ground high speed blades with no set and at least 5 teeth per inch. Carbide tipped blades with a triple chip tooth will give the smoothest cuts. Set the blade height about 3.0 mm above the height of the material. This will reduce edge chipping. When using a hand held circular saw, clamp the sheet to the work surface and use a length of 25 x 75 wood to distribute the clamping pressure and act as a guide for the saw. Feed the work slowly and smoothly. Lubricate the blade with soap or beeswax to minimise gumming from the masking adhesive. Be sure the saw is up to full speed before beginning the cut. Water cooling the blade is suggested for thicknesses over 6 mm, especially if edge cementing will be performed.
Use metal or plastic cutting blades. The blades you use to cut acrylic should never be used for any other material. Cut at high speed and be sure the saw is at full speed before beginning the cut.
Good results are possible, but very difficult. Ensure the acrylic is clamped to prevent flexing. Flexing at the cut may cause cracking.
Routers and shapers
Use single fluted bits for inside circle routing and double fluted bits for edge routing. At the high speeds at which routers operate it is critical to avoid all vibration. Even small vibrations can cause crazing and fractures during routing.