Methacrylic acid, derivate of acrylic acid, was formulated in 1865. In the reaction between methacrylic acid and methanol arises methyl methacrylate. Chemists Fittig and Paul discovered in 1877 the polymerization process that turns methyl methacrylate into polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). In 1933, Otto Röhm patented and registered the Plexiglas brand, until that date, the PMMA was not produced or marketed on a large scale. During the Second World War was used for submarine periscopes, windshields, roofs and turrets for airplanes. Thereafter its applications and uses in industry and home have not stopped increasing.
Currently you can find many variations: transparent, translucent, opaque. In different colors and textures: polished, rough, glossy, matte, etc.., Always preserving their high stiffness and strength.
Methacrylate as would distinguish the common name for the plates or sheets of polymethyl methacrylate, being more generic chemical name for all kinds of element (not only sheets) made with this material (resins, pastes, granules, adhesives, emulsions … ).
Some brands that were once leaders have given name also to the material as a designation of Plexiglas. Although it is also simply called acrylic glass. The brand emerges as Vitroflex ® product manufactured in Spain with technology imported from Germany in the late 50s. At the same time as the technology is exported to Chile where the first factory mounts methacrylate totally Spanish technology.
Its properties include:
Transparency of about 93%. The more transparent plastic.
High impact resistance more than ten times that of glass.
Weatherproof and UV. No appreciable aging in ten years of outdoor exposure.
Excellent thermal and acoustic insulation.
Lightweight compared to glass (about half), with a density of 1.2 kg/dm3 is only slightly heavier than water.
Hardness similar to that of aluminum: scratched metal objects… The acrylic is repaired very easily with a polishing paste.
Easily combustible, not turn off when removed from heat. Its gases have a fruity smell and it crackle when burning. It does not produce any toxic gases on burning so we can consider it a very safe product for people coming elements like wood.
Great ease of machining and molding.
It is sold in rectangular plates between 2 and 120 mm thick. There are varying degrees of resistance (in twelve different qualities) and many colors. Its surface is protected with a polyethylene film to prevent scratches when handling.
Can be machined even in cold. To be bent, heat must be applied locally or heating the entire workpiece. The latter is a complex industrial process that requires specialized machinery and molds.
For these qualities are used in automotive, lighting, cosmetics, entertainment, construction, decoration and optics, among many others.
The advantages of this material are many but those that differentiate the glass are: low weight, better transparency and lower brittleness. Of other plastics differs especially by its greater transparency and weather resistance, easy molding and possible remedies in case of any stripe surface.
PMMA is nontoxic when fully cured.Its component MMA (methyl methacrylate monomer) if the liquid phase is.
Is the polymeric material with better recyclability, closing a full cycle of product may be obtained again the raw material which was developed with a simple thermal cracking process. We can get back the original stuff without having to reprocess the trimmings in products as usual in all plastics.