acrylic thick block sheets reynolds acrylic vs glass
swimming pool extending from roofline 6
viewing window
colossal skylight acrylic panels
swimming pool windows

Acrylic vs Glass

While glass was once the primary material and has been used the longest, advances in acrylic technology delivered a more versatile product that many professionals now prefer. Acrylic is recommended for large installations that demand expansive windows, custom shapes, or the seamless joining of several panels. Please read our blog about acrylic vs glass: 6 reasons to choose acrylic.

1. Optical qualities

As far as optical qualities go, glass provides an increasing amount of distortion as the thickness increases. Generally, the thicker the glass, the more discolouration appears, contributing to the visible distortion. Acrylic has an increased optical clarity compared to glass. 

2. Lightweight 

Acrylic is 17 times stronger than glass but weighs half as much, proving that acrylic is a lighter, more versatile alternative.

3. Cast to the required thickness

Unlike glass, which needs laminating thinner sheets together, acrylic can be cast to the required thickness for the project in a single pour. The fact that it is then lighter in weight also comes in handy here. We custom-cast acrylic with a maximum sheet size of 3050x8860mm up to 711mm thick.

4. Safety point

When designing with glass, engineers can only lower the breakage possibility. They can never eliminate it. Acrylic, however, is predictable in its performance. Since it’s known precisely when acrylic will break, it’s easier to engineer and design the material well beyond that breakage point, called a safety factor. Barring catastrophic outside factors, being able to design and test material built to a safety factor over ten eliminates the risk of failure. Should a flaw appear, acrylic won’t shatter, unlike glass. When acrylic is damaged, it can hold – even if it’s a water retaining application – until it is fixed, perhaps the most crucial safety point. Whether it’s a scratch or something more serious, the panel can usually be restored to like-new condition without affecting its performance.

5. Easy recovery (acrylic vs glass)

While glass is more scratch resistance than acrylic, it is not scratch-proof. In instances where acrylic will get heavily scratched, the glass will likely scratch, too. The difference between the two, even though it takes more power to polish glass, is when glass is scratched, it is difficult – if not impossible – to repair. The only solution at that point is to replace the glass entirely, which can become cost prohibitive with exhibits people regularly touch or interact with. Likewise, when a crack or other flaw appears in the glass, it cannot be repaired. The only solution when that happens is a complete replacement of the panel before a catastrophic event occurs. Acrylic, being plastic, is much more forgiving than glass. Scratches can quickly be restored by polishing.

6. Capability to go beyond the ordinary

Acrylic can be formed into nearly any shape, and the configurations are nearly endless when used with our proprietary, invisible seam bonding process to glue panels together. So acrylic can go beyond the ordinary, whether it’s a tunnel along the floor of an aquarium exhibit, an underwater room in the middle of a dolphin tank, or a colossal view panel to view whale sharks.

Convinced? These are our acrylic materials.