Perspex branded acrylic is the best quality. Other brands have additives that make the cutting process significantly slower and smellier on the laser. This adds to production time costs and can decrease operator comfort.
We had to complain about some 8mm white acrylic that was not Perspex branded. We had bought it for a project with a designer who was prototyping a product. When we cut it with the laser, the edges went brown when they should have stayed white, and it was all down to the makeup of the acrylic. We also had to run the machine at a slower speed than we’d expected for the thickness of the material which made the process less profitable for us. Thankfully, the supplier gave us a refund for the material as they agreed that it was of inferior quality to branded Perspex.
We learned something that day, and now we never order acrylic that isn’t Perspex because of these problems.
How is acrylic made?
Acrylic, unlike plywood, is less varied in sheet thickness, but there’s more to it than that. There are two kinds of acrylic, cast and extruded, named after their production processes. Cast acrylic is made by pouring the acrylic into a mould to set. Extruded acrylic is rolled to a set thickness during the production process.
So theoretically, extruded acrylic should be closer to the nominal thickness of the sheet. You won’t see the same thickness differences between cast and extruded acrylic that you’d expect between nominal and actual thicknesses of plywood, where you can expect differences of 0.2 to 0.3mm. The errors are far smaller.
But not all acrylics are equal, and this is the important thing to watch out for. It could affect the look, quality and cost of your product.