Plexiglass (also commonly spelled "plexiglas") is a transparent, synthetic polymer used mostly as an alternative to glass. It also has a wide variety of other applications.
Plexiglass is a synthetic polymer (plastic). Its scientific name is polymethyl methacrylate, and is frequently abbreviated to PMMA.
The term "plexiglass" is the generic formulation of the brand name Plexiglas, which has worked its way into common usage. Other generic terms for this product are "acrylic glass" or "acrylic." It is also sold under a number of brand names, including Lucite, Perspex, Optix and Acrylite.
How It's Made
Plexiglass is created by adding a catalyst (such as peroxide) to a monomer (such as methyl methacrylate). The methyl methacrylate reacts to become polymethyl methacrylate. The catalyst does not become part of the final product.
Methacrylic acid was first synthesized in 1865. In 1877, German chemists discovered how to transform methyl methacrylate into polymethyl methacrylate. The substance was patented in 1933, and three years later mass production began.
Plexiglass is widely used as a durable, shatter-resistant alternative to glass. It is also used in medical applications, such as in prostheses. You will find it in a wide range of consumer products, such as picture frames, musical instruments and fashion accessories.
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