Bending Perspex

Category: Working with acrylic

Bending Perspex or acrylic can be done if the acrylic is warm.  Once acrylic is cool, it will hold its shape.

Bending acrylic at home can be done with a heater such as a strip heater.  You will also need some clamps to hold your acrylic into your chosen shape.   A strip heater has a heating element running between two tubes that are water cooled. The tubes hold the acrylic sheet in place and you should be able to adjust them to the thickness of your acrylic sheet.

bending acrylic into a table

Here’s our step by step guide to bending acrylic:

  1. Remove the protective film on your acrylic before heating it. Otherwise,  it will become difficult to remove.
  2. Let your strip heater get hot
  3. Place your acrylic sheet between the tubes of the strip heater so that the tubes are at the place where you want to bend your acrylic sheet.
  4. Slowly bend your acrylic into your desired shape, bending acrylic away from the heated side (this side has more give to it and is less likely to crack).  By going slowly, the acrylic is  less likely to snap.  A 6mm piece of acrylic sheet can usually be completely heated at about 300 degrees for about 8 minutes.
  5. Use clamps and weights to hold your acrylic in the shape you want.  It is important to keep your acrylic in place while it cools.

Bending acrylic takes practice so try some test bends to work out the best settings for your piece.  If you would like help bending acrylic, do let our friendly Plastic People team know. They will be happy to help:


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How To Choose Between Acrylic and Polycarbonate

Category: Recycle

For projects requiring clear see-through plastic, acrylic and polycarbonate are the popular and most obvious choices since they do seem quite like each other.  Often chosen to carry out the same tasks, acrylic and polycarbonate have different properties and cost (with polycarbonate sheets being more expensive).  Read this overview from plastic experts, The Plastic People, to make the most suitable choice between these clear plastics for your project.  Both acrylic and polycarbonate are sold as sheets or as ready cut to the size or shape you need.

Strength – if withstanding damage is important

Both acrylic sheets and polycarbonate sheets have excellent levels of resistance to forceful impacts. Because they are clear plastics, they are often considered as alternatives to glass. Both acrylic and polycarbonate are stronger and lighter than glass and both plastics will withstand an impact that will shatter glass into thousands of shards.   Of the two plastics, polycarbonate is strongest – it is around 200 x stronger than glass; acrylic is around 10 stronger than glass. So, if super strength is your requirement polycarbonate sheeting is the better choice. (Though check out what acrylic is often used for in our list below – it may still be strong enough for your project.)

Colour – if choice is important

If you are looking for a plastic with a choice of colours, acrylic sheeting is your option.  Acrylic comes in a massive array of colours and textures.  The variety includes translucent acrylic, pearlescent acrylic, matt acrylics and high gloss acrylics. Polycarbonate is available in a very limited colour range.

Clarity – if retaining clarity is important

Acrylic provides greater clarity than polycarbonate.  At first use the difference is very minimal but over time (and we’re talking around 10 years) polycarbonate may yellow if exposed to the sun.  Acrylic can also be polished in a way that polycarbonate cannot  and polishing acrylic will regain its clarity –  making acrylic sheets a more suitable choice if continued clarity is important.

Drilling and Cutting – if workability is important

Both acrylic and polycarbonate sheets can be cut and drilled.

Polycarbonate is easiest to drill without breakage. In most cases you can drill anywhere on a polycarbonate sheet without any causing any damage. Acrylic is slightly trickier to drill and the closer you drill to the corners, the more likely it is to break.

On the flip side, acrylic is easier to cut than polycarbonate, especially with electrical tools.

Ongoing Maintenance

While strong options, acrylic and polycarbonate will both scratch.  Of the two plastics, acrylic has the advantage in that minor scratching can easily be buffed out. This can be done by hand or with a suitable scratch remover.  In any event, with either clear plastic the only cleaning regime should be with warm soapy water and a soft cotton cloth.  Abrasive cleaning solutions, chemical cleaners and rough sponges or scourers should be avoided.

In summary, polycarbonate bends and scratches but doesn’t break. Acrylic stays stiff and shiny but cracks and shatters under impact.  While polycarbonate is stronger than acrylic, acrylic is still very strong – as you can see by the projects it is used for in our list below.

Common Uses for Acrylic Sheet

  • Fish tanks / aquariums
  • Retail product displays
  • Picture framing
  • Museum display cases
  • Helicopter windows
  • Splashbacks
  • Animal / reptile enclosures

Common Uses for Polycarbonate Sheet

  • Race car window
  •  Riot shields and visors
  • Greenhouse glass replacement
  • Machine guarding glass
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Shatter Proof Alternatives To Glass Patio Tables

Category: clear acrylic, Gardening, Polycarbonate

With this week’s news about certain models of glass-topped patio tables “exploding” in the heat, we thought we’d share a shatter-proof alternative to glass, currently used by customers of The Plastic People:  polycarbonate.

Here’s a customer picture showing the  polycarbonate top – looks just like glass, right ?

Wooden table protected with a polycarbonate table top

While looking just like glass, this table top is actually clear polycarbonate plastic which is around 200 x stronger than glass.  As a point of reference, it is the material used to make police riot shields, which tells you how tough it is.  So tough it is virtually indestructible.  If it was ever dropped, it wouldn’t break.  And it won’t shatter in the heat either.  Polycarbonate starts to soften at temperatures higher than 147°C  – so is a nice, safe option.

Polycarbonate table tops can be ordered online to the size you need to cover your table and delivered to your home safely – because they don’t break!    Check out sites with lots of positive customer reviews to be confident of a good service.

Polycarbonate table tops are more flexible than glass and will need to be supported by a framework on your table or sit on top of a covered table. The friendly team at The Plastic People are happy to help with any queries regarding suitability and safety and can be reached at



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Garden Impact with Acrylic

Category: Gardening, Recycle

Take your garden from fabulous to spectacular with planting of different sizes and scale then create contrast with the introduction of a different material like clear acrylic which can draw the eye across your space but will not block your view.

acrylic has been made to create this stunning balcony

Using two materials with different properties near each other is one way to create an attractive contrast, style and punch to your garden.  Paving, decking or coloured acrylic are also great material options but we love the use of clear acrylic here as it provides sophisticated protection for planting, people as well as the magnificent views.

Thanks to our customer for sending this photo and using our cut to size service transforming clear acrylic sheets into a beautiful balcony.  For further information about this project or creating one like it, please contact the friendly services team at The Plastic People. More information about clear acrylic is here.

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Double Your Garden with an Acrylic Mirror

Category: Recycle

If you’re longing for a larger garden or back yard but have no way to expand your space, try out using an acrylic mirror.

this mirror reflects space around the garden and helps create the feeling of an outdoor room

Acrylic mirror is made in sheet form and can be bought cut to size as a neat way to bring reflection into your garden and help create the feeling of the space you are wanting.

Because acrylic mirror can be cut to size and shape, you have flexibility to use mirrors which will fit your space perfectly.

Some ideas for using acrylic mirror to create the impression of more space include covering a garden wall, to reflect space in secluded corners

acrylic mirror has been used to cover a garden wall and reflect planting

and to make a reflective backdrop to a water feature, like shown here in our customer photographs:).

acrylic mirror by pond reflects light and water

It’s pretty easy to source acrylic mirror cut to size online though we’re hoping you’ll be inspired by our blog and customer pictures to try us out, The Plastic People.

Placing the mirrors in a personal choice. The only word of caution is to avoid hot spots – where the mirror might burn in the sun.

Take a peek at what some of our customers have done in their gardens to create the impression of more space and maximise light. planting

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