PMMA And Other Transparent Plastics – A Comparative Study

28 February 2017

It is often easy to assume that all transparent plastics are more or less the same, based on the way they look externally. However, each of these transparent plastics has a wide utility purpose in a number of industries. It is on the basis of their chemical composition and individual properties that they are considered particularly suitable to specific applications.

Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA) is a polymer resin commonly known by the name acrylic plastic. It is a polymer of methyl methacrylate (MMA), produced by the polymerisation of the monomer. Acrylic plastic is well known for certain principal characteristics so much so that these characteristics largely influence in picking it as a choice plastic distinctly in terms of its use.

In order to compare the properties of PMMA with other transparent plastics, its areas of application may be considered.

Here are some of the major benefits of acrylic plastics relative to other transparent plastics could be:

  • First, PMMA has very high transparency, allowing for higher transmission or passage of light. It scores over other transparent plastics such as its immediate counterpart, polycarbonate and polyvinyl chloride owing to its high light transmission and UV transmittance. Due to this, PMMA is frequently identified as the apt option for applications in the optical devices industry. Extruded acrylic sheets are typically durable for 10 to 20 years in outdoor applications under full sun, or longer if given extra UV protection. It is for this reason that acrylic sheets are considered perfectly suitable for use in mirrors also with the factor of safety ranking high when it is compared to its generic alternative, glass. Poly ethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG) is sometimes used for the manufacture of mirrors. However, it is not found to be UV-stable, therefore PMMA scores in this aspect and hence increases its application range.
  • Secondly, PMMA or acrylic plastic is scratch resistant apart from also being exceptionally adaptable to harsh weather conditions. The operating temperature of PMMA ranges from -40°C to approximately 70°C. This property of resistance clearly distinguishes acrylic plastic from other transparent plastics in that it serves as a light-weight high performing plastic in the automobile industry for specific use in applications such as windows, dashboard displays and screens.
  • Yet another aspect that makes the PMMA polymer a better prospect over other transparent plastics is that extruded acrylic sheets have the lowest purchasing and manufacturing costs compared to other transparent plastics such as polycarbonate or PETG materials.
  • Although scoring low in terms of impact resistance, PMMA makes up for this with its properties of rigidity and chemical resistance. Given that polystyrene (PS) is quite brittle and therefore cracks too easily for most durable goods, PMMA gets brownie points in industries where rigidity is a deciding factor.

Because of such distinct qualities, acrylic plastic is frequently the plastic of choice for several important industries.

As a leading manufacturer of SUMIPEX® PMMA polymer, Sumitomo Chemical is happy to assist you in understanding its properties by establishing a comparison with other transparent plastics. Reach out to us here.