Polymethyl methacrylate, the material of the future.
Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) is a thermoplastic material characterised by transparency, rigidity and ease of processing.
The polymethyl methacrylate derives from methacrylic acid, whose methyl ester is methyl methacrylate, a non-toxic or irritating substance by contact or ingestion. Plastics, or plastomers, are organic substances, synthetic or natural macromolecular, with high molecular weight that, thanks to their plasticity, and under certain conditions, are suitable to be shaped and printed. Such substances are a product of the concatenation of simpler molecules, namely monomers.
Acrylic crystal owes its name to its transparency and brightness, that make it comparable to a real crystal.
It is an elegant and really precious material. The acrylic sheet, with its multi-coloured shades and delicate transparencies, gives a touch of modernity to the most sophisticated architectural needs.
The material can also substitute glass, whereas a high resistance to high temperature is not needed but instead high impact strength and high transparency (even higher than glass) are required.
Its impact strength allows its use even in the urban environment; since it can incorporate many other material without damaging them, it can also be used for street furniture.
Its great transparency and the possibility to highlight its shape through plays of light (bluing, fluorescent colours, polishing, etc.), together with the lightness of the material, makes it perfect for highlighting particular objects, such as displays. Compared to other plastic materials, such as polycarbonate or polystyrene, polymethyl methacrylate or plexiglass is esthetically finer, because it does not yellow like polystyrene and it is much less subject to usury and chemical agents, including products for household cleaning, if compared to polycarbonate.
It cannot nevertheless be used as a bearing structural element, nor used in situations where the temperature constantly exceeds 60 °C, if no adequate precautions are taken. Polymethyl methacrylate obtained by casting can be processed in different ways, many of which exploit its being a thermoplastic material. It is sufficient to bring it over 90°C to print, bend and vacuum casting it.