Acrylic plastic is a synthetic compound that starts out as a liquid or powder and is then moulded into a functional plastic. According to the Polymer Science Learning Center, acrylic plastics are often used as glass replacements because they are shatterproof. While acrylic plastics have plenty of advantages, they also have some drawbacks when it comes to their manufacturing and usage.
Manufacturing acrylic plastic is hazardous to workers' health due to high levels of toxicity. Poisonous fumes are released into the atmosphere during the polymerisation process. Consequently, workers must be prepared with personal protective equipment to ensure that they are not exposed to the hazardous chemicals. Additionally, if the acrylic materials are not handled, stored and disposed of properly, an explosion can occur during polymerisation, according to eNotes.
Not Easily Recyclable
Acrylic plastics are not easily recyclable, nor are they biodegradable, which does not make the product good for the environment. Based on recycling categories, acrylic plastic falls into group seven, and most communities do not recycle products from this classification. These plastics will sit in a landfill for years upon years. The only way to reuse acrylic plastics is to cut off sections from large slabs that can be reformed into another product.
One of the downsides to acrylic plastics is that they can burn or melt at high temperatures or from direct flames. According to Polyer Web, the melting point for acrylic plastic is 100 degrees C. As such, acrylic plastic cannot withstand extreme heat temperatures. Another disadvantage to their quality is that while acrylic plastics are tough and durable, they become easily scratched -- even by objects that are not sharp.
Acrylic plastics have the tendency to yellow with age when being exposed to direct sunlight for a long period of time, or kept under full spectrum lights. The discolouration may become problematic or unsightly, especially if a car window is made from acrylic plastic and begins to yellow.