If you're new to the laser cutting world, or just new to using acrylic sheets in your laser cutting machine, you may have run across conversations about the best acrylic. Two words that always pop up within those conversations are extruded acrylic and cast acrylic.  But what does that mean? Keep reading for our laser focused analysis!

Cast Acrylic

Cast acrylic is a type of plastic that is created by casting liquid acrylic into a mold. The result is a solid sheet of material with a smooth finish. Cast acrylic sheets are used in various applications, including custom signs, and displays.

Cast acrylic has many advantageous properties. It is shatter-resistant, making it suitable for use in high-traffic areas. It is also flame-resistant and UV-resistant, which makes it an ideal material for outdoor applications. 

Additionally, cast acrylic has excellent optical clarity and can be easily molded and shaped into desired shapes.  Jewelry makers- these acrylic sheets are made for you! Get a heat gun or throw them in the oven and experiment!

Extruded Acrylic

Extruded acrylic is a clear, thermoplastic resin with outstanding resistance to impact, weathering, and ultraviolet radiation. An excellent choice for indoor and outdoor applications, it can be easily fabricated, thermoformed, and machined. Its clarity rivals that of glass, yet it weighs 50% less!

Today, extruded acrylic sheets are produced by passing molten PMMA through an extrusion process, where it is cooled and formed into pellets. These pellets are then melted and fed through a die to create sheets of various thicknesses. 

Extruded acrylic offers a number of advantages over other types of acrylic sheeting. It has superior dimensional stability, meaning it will not warp or crack when exposed to changes in temperature or humidity. Additionally, extruded acrylic sheets are easier to bond than cast acrylic, making it ideal for applications that require adhesives or solvents. 

When lasering, most of the time you want to go with a clear cast product over extruded due to the contrast engrave color.  Generally clear cast will engrave with a nice bright white, while extruded does not.  However, extruded acrylic will actually laser beautifully and with more industrial machines and taking the time to dial in your settings, you can get a beautiful flame polished edge look with extruded.