The use of clear plastic is extremely popular in manufacturing a wide range of products, such as acrylic display cases. It is often favored by designers because it is a cost-effective and flexible material to use compared to traditional glass which has a greater risk of breaking. However, there are plenty of different types of plastics and each has its own positive points.
Here are a few of the most common forms of clear plastic:
Injection molded acrylic
Injection molded acrylic is a process of injecting polymethyl methacrylate or acrylic into a mold. This type of plastic is a regular favorite to replace glass and preferred in the process of making display risers, sunglasses and bakery bins. It has absolutely no issues with coloration or hazing to provide the completely clear end product. Any product made with the injection molded technique will have minimal relief markings and be very strong to give long-term performance. Also, the manufacturing process is quite straightforward and a lot less labor intensive compared to handcrafted.
The handcrafted acrylic is the preferred choice when creating the high-end displays. The quality of the end product is very high, but the manufacturing process is time-consuming and quite expensive. Also, there is a lower risk of having manufacturing defects, such as hazing or relief marks from the molds. The joints are hand bonded to give the finish that is much clearer and shows no signs of joint marks.
Injection molded polystyrene
Injection molded polystyrene is a cost-effective solution for making the display stand, but isn’t as strong and can be quite brittle. The items made using this plastic rely on a mold which can result in a blue haze effect and relief markings. The lower quality of this plastic means it is not practical for showcasing collectibles or other expensive items. It more favored for low-cost consumer items like CD cases, single-use dinnerware, license plate frames and disposable razor blades.
Polycarbonate is a form of thermoplastic polymer that is highly durable, but is more expensive than alternatives like polystyrene and acrylic. One of the negatives of this material is the high risk of yellowing when left exposed to bright sunlight for long periods. Also, this material is so strong that it can be used to make airplane windows and bullet-proof glass.
Overall, the preferred type of clear plastic will depend on the intended use and available budget. There are plenty of high-quality materials that appear much like real glass for the most impressive look. Also, there are more budget-friendly options that are favored for short-term use.