How To Acrylic Nails Acrylic Paint

How Acrylic Is Made

How Acrylic Is Made

Have you ever wondered how acrylic is made? Or maybe you heard someone mention it and have always questioned what it meant. Do you understand all the steps it takes to manufacture this common material?

Acrylic is made by synthesizing methyl methacrylate (aka MMA), which is then hydrolyzed to produce acrylic acid. This acid is further processed to produce an acrylic polymer. There are three methods for doing this: batch, semi-batch, and continuous processes.

Acrylic has become a very popular material in your home or business. It’s used as a glass replacement, tabletop, and protective barrier between furniture and flooring. Here’s a guide explaining how acrylic is made.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Acrylic

I wish to take you back to your chemistry class. I hope you loved chemistry or at least liked your chemistry teacher because if not, don’t worry, this isn’t one of those threatening sessions you had in school. I promise to make it as easy as your Math class and sum this process up as quickly and briefly as possible using the short-cut formula (pun intended).

Related Reading: Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Ceramic?

Okay, enough of that, just think of your favorite subject lesson in school. What do you have in mind? Great, let’s get onto the acrylic race.

Step 1: The Ingredients

There are a lot of chemical combinations and interactions between different substances. As identified above, the intended raw materials for making acrylic include (source):

  • Acetone
  • Hydrogen cyanide
  • Methanol
  • Sulphuric acid

So basically, this is the first step: ensuring that the right substances are available.

Step 2: The Chemical Reaction

The second step of PMMA production is a chemical reaction between methacrylic acid and methyl alcohol, which results in methyl methacrylate. The polymerization of these substances is called the monomer (methyl methacrylate produces polymethyl methacrylate, the PMMA) (source).

Below is a YouTube video showing the process in more detail.

As much as the production process of acrylic involves chemicals and chemical reactions, it’s not a hard process to follow.

Moving swiftly as I show you the various advantages and disadvantages of acrylic.

Related Reading: Can You Use Water To Thin Acrylic Paint?

Some of the Uses of Acrylic

Acrylic is a transparent thermoplastic material stronger than ordinary plastic and has similar characteristics to glass. In scientific terms, acrylic is a polymethyl methacrylate commonly referred to as PMMA.

Perhaps you have heard of names like plexiglass, lucite, perspex, or even crystallite. Well, they are all commonly used to mean acrylic. Acrylic is made using substances such as acetone, hydrogen cyanide, methanol, and sulphuric acid. These substances are then combined together through a process called polymerization.

What is polymerization? Polymerization is when one or more chemical elements or substances are joined or combined to form a new substance due to the various properties (source).

Did you know that PMMA is widely known as thermoplastics? Well, now that you do, let’s look at some of the uses of acrylic.

Acrylic is a durable and expensive substance. Because of this, it has been used to make many items that I will discuss below.

Even though some of the substances, such as the hydrogen cyanide and sulphuric acid that acrylic is made from are highly toxic, the final product – the acrylic itself – Is purely harmless and is indeed a versatile product.

Some of the uses of acrylic include:

  • Paint
  • Acrylic nails
  • Lenses
  • A glass replacement
  • Accessories in the jewelry industry, such as bracelets
  • Windows can also be made out of acrylic
  • Furniture
  • Light covers

Is Acrylic Advantageous?

Due to the advanced properties present in the raw materials of PMMA, or rather acrylic, the uses of acrylic are as vast as the ocean in the manufacturing industry. What if I told you that acrylic has replaced glass for over nine decades in various products? Would you believe me? (source).

After much scientific jargon, let’s jump off a bit onto a fun fact: the physical properties of acrylic. Acrylic is so light that if you measure a similar glass panel, it would be half its weight (source).

Acrylic is an interesting substance that has a lot of advantages. They include;

  1. Highly versatile, and this particularly explains its myriad of uses.
  2. It is strong, at least stronger than glass.
  3. Easy to mold and shape.
  4. Acrylic is easy to clean and maintain; who wouldn’t want a product that would take seconds or minutes to clean?
  5. It’s lighter than glass and poses an advantage over it.
  6. Acrylic is also easy to fabricate.
  7. It’s also highly transparent, and because of this, acrylic is best applied to objects that are often exposed to sunlight. The sunlight rays find an easy and effortless time to penetrate through the acrylic-based item/surface (source).

Acrylic is a relatively lightweight alternative to glass, with the durability and clarity of glass without the weight. It’s also versatile: it can be used in various applications, from clear shower doors to science lab equipment.

However, despite its practicality and versatility, acrylic has several disadvantages you must consider before using it for your needs.

Acrylic, too, has some demerits, which comprise the following:

  1. With its close similarity with glass, acrylic is more prone to scratching easily than glass itself. When scratches form on the window pane, they become very noticeable over time.
  2. Acrylic is also a none heat resistant; it burns away. Acrylic can also not be used as a safety glass because it’s flammable, and just like glass, it can also break (source).
  3. Its high water absorption rate makes it susceptible to stains and rotting if exposed to moisture for an extended period (source).
  4. It is also a bit more expensive than glass windows, which may make the difference between buying quality windows or getting lesser quality materials (source).

Final Thoughts

The production of acrylic involves a series of chemical reactions, which you probably already know. However, it’s important to note that each stage in the industrial production process is subject to strict control and quality control. This helps ensure that all finished acrylic products are consistent as possible.

The global demand for more acrylic products has risen dramatically over the years. It will continue to do so over the next decade or so. That said, vendors worldwide will continue producing and manufacturing these products to ensure the continuous availability of their output.

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