Wiki: Acrylic sheet

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NT
Acrylic is widely known as Perspex (tm). Sold mainly as a clear glazing sheet, it must be worked correctly to avoid cracking and breaking.
Acrylic is much cheaper than twinwall polycarbonate, and looks very like ordinary glass, but lacks twinwall's insulation.
Acrylic is also available in colours, though not from diy [[suppliers]].
==Common uses=*Secondary [[glazing]] *[[Shed]] glazing *Tanks for fish & vivariums *Display cases, racks, stands etc *Gardening bells *Decorative [[lighting]] with [[LED]]s
==Thickness=4mm is rigid, and suitable for secondary glazing, shed glazing, tanks, stands etc. Its not recommended for use as the sole layer of domestic glazing, as it melts & burns in a [[fire]].
2mm isn't fully rigid. Its usable for shed windows, but less secure than 4mm. It can be used in a frame as secondary glazing for little windows, but doesn't give the [[noise]] reduction of heavier stiffer glazing. 2mm can be used where it won't lie entirely flat, such as non- frame type shed windows, and mildly curved applications. Curving increases rigidity.
Acrylic provides less [[noise]] reduction than the same thickness of glass, due to lower rigidity and less weight.
=ilure=Acrylic is much more able to survive stray footballs, bricks etc than glass. Acrylic goods are more likely to survive falls than glass.
Cloudiness occurs eventually.
Acrylic scratches & clouds if rubbed repeatedly. This includes [[cleaning]] with unsuitable materials, such as scourers.
It melts readily in [[fire]], creating a [[security]] issue when used as the only layer of [[glazing]].
==Cutting=Breaking and cracking often happens due to wrong cutting technique. The usual problem is basically applying too much force, or using a [[saw]] with too coarse teeth.
There are several effective ways to cut it, including: # Score and snap. Fast, but a little risk of it going wrong. # Electric [[saw]] - always take it easy, don't use a coarse blade, and remove the blade from the work as soon as it stops # Hand sawing - Use a fine tooth blade and be gentle-ish. # [[Die grinder]] - use a small flat abrasive wheel to melt your way along. # Hot wire cutter
Sawblades should have at least 3 teeth in the work at any one time.
==Drilling=Use a regular [[Drill bit|twist bit]], don't push much, and keep speed moderate. Be gentle when the bit breaks out.
Its also possible to make holes with a small pointed grindstone in a [[die grinder]]. These just melt through. Withdraw the stone as soon as it goes through, or it won't then withdraw.
If you work with acrylic more than just occasionally, its worth regrinding a [[drill bit] or two to zero rake angle.
==Machining=The same basic principles apply to all types of machining. Use [[tool]]s with nonaggressive cutting angles, keep pressure low, speed moderate, and avoid vibration.
=ge finishing=Edges can be filed, sanded, or routed gently. Once suitably shaped, the simplest way to get a good finish is to wipe once with acetone. This restores shine. Don't wipe it a 2nd time, the plastic goes temporarily gooey.
==Gluing=Acetone or cellulose thinners dissolve acrylic. Solvent can often be used alone. Dissolve some shavings in the solvent for a quick drying [[glue]].
=nding=Boiling [[water]] softens the [[plastic]] for bending.
==Refinishing= If the surface is scratched or cloudy, either grind & polish, or wipe once with acetone.
==Safety=Acrylic has no specific safety issues, other than melting and flammability in a fire, which limits its use as [[glazing]].
Acetone is highly volatile, expolsively flammable and mildly toxic. It has a habit of the vapour igniting from distant flame, which then flashes back to the acetone container. Hazards are addressed [http:// www.jmloveridge.com/cosh/Acetone.pdf here (MSDS)].
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On 16/06/2012 19:59, NT wrote:

Standard polycarbonate is surely more common than acrylic / perspex these days. It's significantly tougher, hence its use in security applications although it is still brittle. Readily available from sheds whereas you have to go to specialist suppliers for perspex.
I'd keep acetone away from both, I think they cause "crazing" or ESC (environmental stress cracking in the UK, environmental stress crazing in the USA).
The standard polycarbonate sheet has limited life outdoors owing to UV attack, yellows and becomes opaque, and eventually brittle. You may get 10 years out of it though.
Agree with your comments about shaping. For the standard 2-3 mm stuff I usually score with a Stanley knife (deep, many passes) and then snap. For a long break it is worth clamping timber or 18 mm plywood both sides, otherwise there is a risk that the crack deviates and it always goes the wrong way. If the piece is short enough to fit in a workmate, that's what I often use.
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A multitool blade gets hot and will melt through acrylic sheet quite well.
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Ta, have added the cutting suggestions. That certainly makes it less risky.
Wickes sell acrylic, and acetone has long been the standard solvent for it.
NT
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Plexiglas is one of the other large trade competitors to Perspex, it`s available in many,many other finishes apart from clear.
As compared to polycarbonate , acrylic is harder and has glass level clearness, its used for plastic optics.
Polycarb is softer, scartches easier but has much higher impact strength.
Laser cut acrylic won`t glue without annealing otherwise it will stress crack.
Methylene chloride is the standard solvent for welding acrylics, its faster than acetone.
http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/general/what-solvent-glue-acrylic-216404 /
Flame polishing is worth looking up on youtube :-)
Cheers Adam

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Thank you, lots more incorporated. Is a diyer likely to be working with laser cut sheet?
NT
Acrylic is also known by the trade names Perspex and Plexiglas. Sold mainly as a clear glazing sheet, it must be worked correctly to avoid cracking and breaking.
==Main properties== Acrylic looks like glass, but has much higher impact resistance. Its much more able to survive stray footballs, bricks etc. Acrylic goods are more likely to survive falls than glass.
Its not recommended for use as the sole layer of domestic glazing, as it melts & burns in a [[fire]]. This creates a [[security]] issue.
Acrylic scratches & clouds if rubbed repeatedly. This includes [[cleaning]] with unsuitable materials, such as scourers.
Acrylic provides less [[noise]] reduction than the same thickness of glass, due to lower rigidity and less weight.
Acrylic is much cheaper than twinwall polycarbonate, and looks very like ordinary glass, but lacks twinwall's insulation. Acrylic has less scratch vulnerability and less impact resistance than polycarbonate.
Acrylic is also available in colours, though not from diy [[suppliers]].
==Main uses== *Secondary [[glazing]] *[[Shed]] glazing *Child safe interior glazing *Tanks for fish & vivariums *Display cases, racks, stands etc *Gardening bells *Decorative [[lighting]] with [[LED]]s
==Thickness== 4mm is rigid, and suitable for secondary glazing, shed glazing, tanks, stands etc.
2mm isn't fully rigid. Its usable for shed windows, but less secure. It can be used in a frame as secondary glazing for little windows, but doesn't give the [[noise]] reduction of heavier stiffer glazing. 2mm can be used where it won't lie entirely flat, such as non-frame type shed windows, and mildly curved applications. Curving increases rigidity.
==Failure== Cloudiness occurs eventually.
==Cutting== Breaking and cracking often happens due to wrong cutting technique. The usual problem is basically applying too much force, or using a [[saw]] with too coarse teeth.
There are several effective ways to cut it, including: # Score and snap. Fast, but a little risk of it going wrong. # Electric [[saw]] - always take it easy, don't use a coarse blade, and remove the blade from the work as soon as it stops # Hand sawing - Use a fine tooth blade and be gentle-ish. # [[Die grinder]] - use a small flat abrasive wheel to melt your way along. # Hot wire cutter
Score & snap: make a deep score with several passes of the [[knife]]. Place the sheet over a square edge to break, otherwise the crack can wander off course. For long breaks its worth clamping 18mm [[ply]] onto both sides to avoid the crack going off course.
Sawblades should have at least 3 teeth in the work at any one time.
==Drilling== Use a regular [[Drill bit|twist bit]], don't push much, and keep speed moderate. Be gentle when the bit breaks out.
Its also possible to make holes with a small pointed grindstone in a [[die grinder]]. These just melt through. Withdraw the stone as soon as it goes through, or it won't then withdraw.
If you work with acrylic more than just occasionally, its worth regrinding a [[drill bit] or two to zero rake angle.
==Machining== The same basic principles apply to all types of machining. Use [[tool]]s with nonaggressive cutting angles, keep pressure low, speed moderate, and avoid vibration.
==Edge finishing== Edges can be filed, sanded, or routed gently. Once suitably shaped, the simplest way to get a good finish is to wipe once with solvent. This restores shine. Don't wipe it a 2nd time, the plastic goes temporarily gooey.
Edges can also be flame polished, but this isn't suitable for edges due to be [[glue]]d.
==Gluing== Solvent can often be used alone for gluing. The surfaces should be close mating, and the joint pressed closed during setting to ensure a gap free joint.
Methylene chloride is the solvent of choice for acrylic. Acetone, cellulose thinners, and some other solvents also work. Commercial mixes for gluing acrylic are available too. These solvents all have sizeable safety issues.
Dissolve some shavings in the solvent for a quick drying gap filling [[glue]].
Superglue is can also be used, but it mars the appearance.
==Bending== Boiling [[water]] softens the [[plastic]] for bending.
==Refinishing==
If the surface is scratched or cloudy, either grind & polish, or wipe once with solvent.
==Safety== Acrylic has no specific safety issues, other than melting and flammability in a fire, which limits its use as [[glazing]].
The solvents used with it have more serious issues, one should be properly informed before using them.
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Yes... there are relatively cheap online laser cutting services these days. A full laser cutter is a few thousand quid, which is serious-home-workshop kind of pricing. The brave could make their own (stepper motors, mirrors, CO2 laser source, and lots of safety protection ;-).
Laser cutting acrylic usually results in smooth polished edges (except in case of flameout). It also laser surface etches well.
There are two types of acrylic sheet: cell cast acrylic and extruded acrylic.
Cast acrylic comes in a variety of thicknesses and colours, and other shapes. Cast acrylic can have significant variation in thickness (eg +/-1mm) both within sheets and over the same sheet. Extruded acrylic has a more limited range of products, but has tighter tolerance. Due to the production process, extruded material has more internal stresses and glue and is less good for solvent bonding. Extruded acrylic is usually cheaper.
Due to the production process it can be more expensive, per m2, to buy thinner sheet (eg 1mm) than thicker sheet (eg 4mm).
(paraphrase from http://www.edplastics.co.uk/Acrylic%20-%20Perspex%20-%20Repsol%20Glass.htm )
Theo
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On 17/06/2012 14:13, NT wrote: ...

I find such statements to be more useful if quantified. Acrylic is between 10 and 20 times more resistant to impact than the same thickness of common glass.
There are also two main types of acrylic sheet - cast and extruded.
Extruded has a more closely controlled thickness and is more ductile, making it the better choice for bending and forming.
Cast has better mechanical properties, greater thermal stability and superior surface finish, flatness and optical properties. Cast acrylic is also more resistant to crazing when exposed to solvents.

It has a greater thermal insulation value when compared to the same thickness of glass.

Why compare two entirely different products? The equivalent to clear acrylic sheet is clear polycarbonate sheet, not twin wall, which BTW is only one of many multiwall products made in polycarbonate.

Not in any I've had for over 30 years.

Use coolant for deep drilling and clear the swarf regularly.

Overheating, leading to melting, is the main problem. Plain water, water/air mists and compressed air are all suitable coolants when machining. Soluble oils may be suitable, if they do not contain solvents.

Hot air blown through a spreading nozzle is more controllable. Acrylic sheet softens at 80C.
Cleaning
Acrylic sheet should only be cleaned with clean cold water, to which a small amount of detergent has been added. Solvents or proprietary window cleaning products are not recommended.

Commercial acrylic scratch removing polishes are recommended for minor blemishes. They are very mild abrasives and may require considerable work to remove the blemish.

Colin Bignell
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On Sun, 17 Jun 2012 05:07:01 -0700 (PDT), Adam Aglionby

Eh?
Got a source for that?
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wrote:

http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?51176-Having-problem-gluing-laser-cut-acrylic-parts
Goes into some possible solutions, but router cutting is neatest if you want to bond it after.
Cheers Adam
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On 16/06/2012 19:59, NT wrote:

an IR electrical element held close to sheet will warm a long thin section ... allowing easy bending along a line
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But you need a jig if you need to bend it accurately such as lining up holes - it goes gooey, so once heated it's like trying to precision engineer toffee.
Theo
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On 18/06/2012 11:33, Theo Markettos wrote:

This is uk.d-iy ... need a jig ... make one.
I used a single bar on an electric fire, lais on it's back and created a temp 'slot' using 2 pieces of asbstelux sheet. ... like a long thin letter box - about a 3/8" gap. Hold perspex over slot ... it bends on a very straight line.
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Lots of suggestions incorporated. Latest version...
NT
Acrylic is also known by the trade names Perspex and Plexiglas. Sold mainly as a clear glazing sheet, it must be worked correctly to avoid cracking and breaking.
==Main properties=Acrylic looks like glass, but has 10-20 times the impact resistance for the same size. Its much more able to survive stray footballs, bricks etc.
Acrylic insulates better than glass, but less than twinwall polycarbonate.
Its not recommended for use as the sole layer of domestic glazing, as it melts & burns in a [[fire]]. This creates a [[security]] issue.
Acrylic scratches & clouds if rubbed repeatedly. This includes [[cleaning]] with unsuitable materials, such as scourers.
Acrylic provides less [[noise]] reduction than the same thickness of glass, due to lower rigidity and less weight.
Acrylic is much cheaper than twinwall polycarbonate, and looks much like ordinary glass. Polycarbonate has better scratch and impact resistance, but doesn;t look like glass, and is more expensive.
The main issue with acrylic is cloudiness caused by abrasion.
==Main uses=*Secondary [[glazing]] *[[Shed]] glazing *Child safe interior glazing *Tanks for fish & vivariums *Display cases, racks, stands etc *Gardening bells *Decorative [[lighting]] with [[LED]]s *Plastic optics
==Thickness & type=4mm is rigid, and suitable for secondary glazing, shed glazing, tanks, stands etc.
2mm isn't fully rigid. Its usable for shed windows, but less secure. It can be used in a frame as secondary glazing for little windows, but doesn't give the [[noise]] reduction of heavier stiffer glazing. 2mm can be used where it won't lie entirely flat, such as non-frame type shed windows, and mildly curved applications. Curving increases rigidity.
Various other sizes and shapes are available. Thinner sheet isn't always cheaper.
Cast acrylic costs more than extruded, and has rather poorer tolerances. It has less internal stresses and glues better. It has superior flatness, better surface finish and more thermal stability.
Extruded is cheaper, more ductile, and preferred for bending and forming.
Acrylic is also available in colours, though not from diy [[suppliers]].
==Cutting=Breaking and cracking often happens due to wrong cutting technique. The usual problem is basically applying too much force, or using a [[saw]] with too coarse teeth.
There are several effective ways to cut it, including: # Score and snap. Fast, but a little risk of it going wrong. # Electric [[saw]] - always take it easy, don't use a coarse blade, and remove the blade from the work as soon as it stops # Hand sawing - Use a fine tooth blade and be gentle-ish. # [[Die grinder]] - use a small flat abrasive wheel to melt your way along. # Hot wire cutter # Have a machine shop cut it # Laser cutting services available online - smooth polished edges, but makes gluing harder
Score & snap: make a deep score with several passes of the [[knife]]. Place the sheet over a square edge to break, otherwise the crack can wander off course. For long breaks its worth clamping 18mm [[ply]] onto both sides to avoid the crack going off course.
Sawblades should have at least 3 teeth in the work at any one time.
==Drilling=Use a regular [[Drill bit|twist bit]], don't push much, and keep speed moderate. Be gentle when the bit breaks out.
Its also possible to make holes with a small pointed grindstone in a [[die grinder]]. These just melt through. Withdraw the stone as soon as it goes through, or it won't then withdraw.
When deep drilling pieces, use coolant & clear swarf reguarly.
If you work with acrylic more than just occasionally, its worth regrinding a [[drill bit] or two to zero rake angle.
==Machining=The same basic principles apply to all types of machining. Heat is the main problem. Keep pressure or feed rate low and speed moderate. Water, air or water mist coolants allow more feed rate.
Laser etching and cutting work well.
With hand [[tool]]s, use nonaggressive cutting angles to avoid cracking.
=ge finishing=Edges can be filed, sanded, or routed gently. Once suitably shaped, the simplest way to get a good finish is to wipe once with solvent. This restores shine. Don't wipe it a 2nd time, the plastic goes temporarily gooey.
Edges can also be flame polished, but this isn't suitable for edges due to be [[glue]]d.
==Gluing=Solvent can often be used alone for gluing. The surfaces should be close mating, and the joint pressed closed during setting to ensure a gap free joint.
Methylene chloride is the solvent of choice for acrylic. Acetone, cellulose thinners, and some other solvents also work. Commercial mixes for gluing acrylic are available too. These solvents all have sizeable safety issues.
Dissolve some shavings in the solvent for a quick drying gap filling [[glue]].
Superglue is can also be used, but it mars the appearance.
Laser cut edges need annealing before gluing, or it stress cracks.
=nding=Acrylic softens at 80C. The following work: *An IR heating element close to the acrylic is good for bending along a straight line. Use a jig to control the bend. A more precise bending line can be achieved by covering an element except for a 3/8" slot. *Hot air gun with nozzle *Boiling [[water]] for bending large areas or slump moulding
==Cleaning=A lot of cleaning formulations damage acrylic. Use cool water with a little detergent. Avoid all types of scourer or scraper, and minimise cloth use, as loose grit can scratch.
==Refinishing= If the surface is scratched or cloudy, either grind & polish, or wipe once with solvent. Commercial scratch removing polishes are very fine abrasives. Polishing blemishes out can take a lot of work.
==Safety=Acrylic has no specific safety issues, other than melting and flammability in a fire, which limits its use as [[glazing]].
The solvents used with it have more serious issues, one should be properly informed before using them.
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Polycarb is softer with worse scratch resistance than acrylic, acrylic has about 20 times impact strength of glass , polycarbonate about 100 times impact strength of glass.
Down the food chain in clear sheet plastics is polystyrene, available in clear sheets but usually notsuper optically clear, tends to have visible swirling in it, brittle and decays in UV but considerably cheaper than acrylic.
Cheers Adam
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Acrylic is also known by the trade names Perspex and Plexiglas. Sold mainly as a clear glazing sheet, it must be worked correctly to avoid cracking and breaking.
==Main properties== Acrylic looks like glass, but has 10-20 times the impact resistance for the same size. Its much more able to survive stray footballs, bricks etc.
Acrylic insulates better than glass, but less than twinwall polycarbonate.
Its not recommended for use as the sole layer of domestic glazing, as it melts & burns in a [[fire]]. This creates a [[security]] issue.
Acrylic scratches & clouds if rubbed repeatedly. This includes [[cleaning]] with unsuitable materials, such as scourers.
Acrylic provides less [[noise]] reduction than the same thickness of glass, due to lower weight & rigidity.
The main issue with acrylic is cloudiness caused by abrasion.
==Main uses== *Secondary [[glazing]] *[[Shed]] glazing *Child safe interior glazing *Tanks for fish & vivariums *Display cases, racks, stands etc *Gardening bells *Decorative [[lighting]] with [[LED]]s *Plastic optics
==Thickness & type== 4mm is rigid, and suitable for secondary glazing, shed glazing, tanks, stands etc.
2mm isn't fully rigid. Its usable for shed windows, but less secure. It can be used in a frame as secondary glazing for little windows, but doesn't give the [[noise]] reduction of heavier stiffer glazing. 2mm can be used where it won't lie entirely flat, such as non-frame type shed windows, and mildly curved applications. Curving increases rigidity.
Various other sizes and shapes are available. Thinner sheet isn't always cheaper.
Cast acrylic costs more than extruded, and has rather poorer tolerances. It has less internal stresses and glues better. It has superior flatness, better surface finish and more thermal stability.
Extruded is cheaper, more ductile, and preferred for bending and forming.
Acrylic is also available in colours, though not from diy [[suppliers]].
==Other options== Polycarbonate is softer with worse scratch resistance, but has 10-20 times the impact strength of acrylic and costs more.
Twinwall & multiwall products provide a lot more insulation than clear sheet, but aren't clear like glass, and cost a lot more.
Down the food chain in clear sheet plastics is polystyrene, available in clear sheets but usually not super optically clear, tends to have visible swirling in it, brittle and decays in UV, but considerably cheaper than acrylic.
==Cutting== Breaking and cracking often happens due to wrong cutting technique. The usual problem is basically applying too much force, or using a [[saw]] with too coarse teeth.
There are several effective ways to cut it, including: # Score and snap. Fast, but a little risk of it going wrong. # Electric [[saw]] - always take it easy, don't use a coarse blade, and remove the blade from the work as soon as it stops # Hand sawing - Use a fine tooth blade and be gentle-ish. # [[Die grinder]] - use a small flat abrasive wheel to melt your way along. # Hot wire cutter # Router - but keep the cutting bit cool if you're going to glue it # Have a machine shop cut it # Laser cutting services available online - smooth polished edges, but makes gluing harder
Score & snap: make a deep score with several passes of the [[knife]]. Place the sheet over a square edge to break, otherwise the crack can wander off course. For long breaks its worth clamping 18mm [[ply]] onto both sides to avoid the crack going off course.
Sawblades should have at least 3 teeth in the work at any one time.
==Drilling== Use a regular [[Drill bit|twist bit]], don't push much, and keep speed moderate. Be gentle when the bit breaks out.
Its also possible to make holes with a small pointed grindstone in a [[die grinder]]. These just melt through. Withdraw the stone as soon as it goes through, or it won't then withdraw.
When deep drilling pieces, use coolant & clear swarf reguarly.
If you work with acrylic more than just occasionally, its worth regrinding a [[drill bit] or two to zero rake angle.
==Machining== The same basic principles apply to all types of machining. Heat is the main problem. Keep pressure or feed rate low and speed moderate. Water, air or water mist coolants allow more feed rate.
Laser etching and cutting work well.
With hand [[tool]]s, use nonaggressive cutting angles to avoid cracking.
==Edge finishing== Edges can be filed, sanded, or routed gently. Once suitably shaped, the simplest way to get a good finish is to wipe once with solvent. This restores shine. Don't wipe it a 2nd time, the plastic goes temporarily gooey.
Edges can also be flame polished, but this isn't suitable for edges due to be [[glue]]d.
==Gluing== Solvent can often be used alone for gluing. The surfaces should be close mating, and the joint pressed closed during setting to ensure a gap free joint.
Methylene chloride is the solvent of choice for acrylic. Acetone, cellulose thinners, and some other solvents also work. Commercial mixes for gluing acrylic are available too. These solvents all have sizeable safety issues.
Dissolve some shavings in the solvent for a quick drying gap filling [[glue]].
Superglue is can also be used, but it mars the appearance.
Laser cut edges and flame polished edges need annealing before gluing, or it stress cracks. [http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php %3F51176-Having-problem-gluing-laser-cut-acrylic-parts More]
==Bending== Acrylic softens at 80C. The following work: *An IR heating element close to the acrylic is good for bending along a straight line. Use a jig to control the bend. A more precise bending line can be achieved by covering an element except for a 3/8" slot. *Hot air gun with nozzle *Boiling [[water]] for bending large areas or slump moulding
==Cleaning== A lot of cleaning formulations damage acrylic. Use cool water with a little detergent. Avoid all types of scourer or scraper, and minimise cloth use, as loose grit can scratch.
==Refinishing==
If the surface is scratched or cloudy, either grind & polish, or wipe once with solvent. Commercial scratch removing polishes are very fine abrasives. Polishing blemishes out can take a lot of work.
==Safety== Acrylic has no specific safety issues, other than melting and flammability in a fire, which limits its use as [[glazing]].
The solvents used with it have more serious issues, one should be properly informed before using them.
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