Acrylic,  Plastic

Acrylic – The history of the Plastic Polymer

Acrylic is a member of the synthetic family, or mad-made plastic material that contains acrylic acid if this explanation explains better. The most common acrylic is polymethyl metacrylate (PMMA), commercially known with names like Plexiglass, Lucite, Perspex or Crystallite. All in all they are all the same. They are built tough, transparent with excellent resistance to ultraviolet radiation and extreme weather conditions. On top of that, they can be easily coloured, moulded, cut and drilled to different shapes and forms. They are ideal for different applications among industries, like airplane windshields, skylights, automobile tail lights, signages etc.

Just like any other plastics, acrylic are polymers. The word comes from a Greek analogy, which it means MANY. A polymer (acrylic) is a material made of multiple particles bonded together like a chain. The process of manufacturing acrylic is known as polymerization, where you sort of put everything in a box and shake it coming back in a couple of hours and taada you get you assembly.

The first polymer is a combination of cellulose nitrate and camphor, dated back in the 1869. This was based on natural polymer cellulose, which is present only in plants. They then were used to make many items including photographic film, men’s shirt collars and combs. Then acrylic was then developed further from this first generation of polymer.

This then happened in 1843, the first acrylic acid was prepared. Methacrylic acid is further formulated in 1865. When methacrylic acid is reacted with methyl alocohol, it results in an esther still known as methacrylate. The same polymerization process is used to achieve feats like acrylic glass. The same used during world war 2 by German chemist Fittig for periscope parts on submarines, windshields, canopies and gun turrets on airplanes.