How to cut plexiglass properly?

Plexiglas is a material widely used today for its practicality and his little price. It works quite easily, but that does not dispense with taking certain precautions when cutting it and using the adequate material in order to obtain a zero defect result. Let’s find out the possible methods to cut plexiglass yourself with precision and obtain a clean cut.

A few words about Plexiglas, a material that is on the rise

The polymethyl methacrylate or plexiglass which is also called Acrylate, Altuglas or even Perspex – which are simply trade names -, has the abbreviation PMMA. This sort of acrylic glass is a material that we have known for more than 80 years since its first commercialization dates back to 1936. It is essentially composed of:

  • hydrocyanic acid,
  • methanol,
  • sulfuric acid,
  • Acetone.

Nothing that can inspire confidence in the average consumer, and yet the final combination of these components is considered by specialists as not presenting no toxicity. Certainly inflammable, plexiglass emits carbon dioxide fumes when it burns but, it is said, in non-harmful doses. It should indeed be noted that in small quantities, carbon dioxide does not present a danger to health, which is not the case with a higher concentration.

Plexiglas: uses

We find the plexiglass In all areas because it can also be used to make glazing and shop windows, as well as crockery, shelves, chairs, tables, noise barriers. This material is also used to create basins to equip zoos and animal parks, as well as very large aquariums because in glass, they would be too heavy. However, Plexiglas has Limits : because it deforms under high temperatures, it cannot enter into the composition of elements linked to safety.

Plexiglas comes in a multitude of thicknesses, between 1 and 20 mm. If it is used for various purposes it is because it is very popular. It is light, resistant in particular to UV rays, its longevity is limitless and its impact resistance is extreme, at least as far as GS Plexiglas is concerned. Compared to glass, for example, this cast Plexiglas is about 40 times more resistant. Moreover, he adapts to all needsknowing that it can also be folded and cut to adopt the desired shape and size.

There are therefore two forms of Plexiglas:

  • The extruded version (XT) which is the least solid form. She breaks easily. It’s a plexiglass little price which should not be installed as glazing because it is not UV resistant. This acrylic plate is difficult to cut when you are not a DIY pro.
  • The cast version (GS) which is a solid acrylic sheet not breaking easily. It is UV resistant and can therefore be used as glazing. This Plexiglas, which is available as a mirror or is sold in many colors, or in different finishes (matte, shiny, opaque or even fluorescent), is very versatile. The GS (cast) plexiglass can be cut to the desired measurements by the store that sells it (recommended), but you can also take care of it yourself.

Cutting plexiglass: the right method for a clean and precise result

You can cut Plexiglas without fear, especially if you have taken care to buy the cast version – easier to cut -, but as it is before attacking many DIY jobs, it is highly recommended to wear mask and goggles.

You also need:

  • Do not remove the protective plate that covers the Plexiglas throughout the duration of the work and until it is installed. This transparent plastic film prevents scratches.
  • Place masking tape type adhesive on the area to be cut (cut line) to avoid possible splinters.

The Necessary material is :

  • Either a glazier’s diamond or even a cutter whose blade is perfectly sharpened,
  • Or, to cut a plexiglass sheet with a thickness greater than 5 mma jigsaw equipped with a metal blade with fine teeth because it is suitable for this acrylic glass,
  • Clamps that will allow you to make a clean, straight cut, holding the plate while it is cut.

The method of plexiglass cutting with a cutter recommended by professionals takes place as follows.

  • Mark with a marker on the protective film the cutting line,
  • Score the cut line with a ruler and the cutter or with a glazier’s diamond and make several passes,
  • Lay the Plexiglas sheet on the workbench, between the clamps, taking care to position the cut line 10 mm above the gap,
  • Hold the plate firmly with one hand by pressing firmly on the plexiglass with the other hand,
  • Cut the plexiglass by pressing sharply,
  • Remove all burrs with an electric plane or with a soft file or fine-grain emery cloth.

Pour cut plexiglass cleanly with an electric sawproceed as follows.

  • Once the cutting line has been marked with a felt pen and then protected with masking tape and the plate installed on the work surface well fixed to the clamps, a blade for metals must be installed on the jigsaw.
  • Set the electric cutting tool to the slowest speed so as not to overheat the Plexiglas. Ultra-fast cutting speed may cause it to melt.
  • Be sure to keep a slow cutting progress to reduce the risk of jamming.
  • Make the cut once without stopping along the way because the plexiglass having heated up, it can stick to the blade. Moreover, care must be taken to cool the blade throughout the cut:
    • Either using a water spray bottle,
    • Either with a specific spray lubricant.
  • Remove the masking tape,
  • Deburr with a soft file or an electric plane,
  • Remove the plastic film that covers the Plexiglas plate,
  • Pass a good blow of cloth on both sides for an impeccable result.

There is another method considered much better than the previous ones for cutting Plexiglas cleanly: the laser cut. Of course, amateur do-it-yourselfers generally do not have this type of equipment at home. However, they can have the plexiglass laser cut to their dimensions if they have purchased their plate from a store that is equipped with this type of cutting machine.

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