Cast acrylic sheet is a form of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). Cast acrylic sheets, also known as Plexiglas® and Perspex®, are both popular brand names for cast acrylic sheets. They are manufactured directly from the monomer by two methods, namely continuous cast, and cell cast. In the continuous cast, methyl methacrylate (MMA) syrup is polymerized between two extremely polished stainless steel bands. In the cell cast method, MMA syrup is cast between two sheets of fine quality glass and polymerized in a batch process in specially developed water baths or ovens. Cast acrylic sheets have excellent transparency of 92% light transmission and are widely used in museum casings, aircraft windscreens, signage, and displays. They have high molecular weight, which makes it more rigid, easy to handle, and craze resistant. Additionally, cast acrylic sheets are easy to fabricate, shape, and form.
Cast acrylic sheets are increasingly finding applications in various fields such as sanitary ware, automotive, interior designing, etc. The demand from display and signage applications is also significantly impacting the cast acrylic sheet market. Before cast acrylic sheets, plastic or glass were widely used for signage and displays in lobbies, airports, and other places. Modernization and digitization also demand products such as cast acrylic sheets as their appearance is better. Gloss, ease in printing, range of colors, versatility, weather-resistance, mirror and opaque finishes, and solar reflectivity are the other characteristics surging demand in multiple sectors. Cast acrylic sheet can be considered to be in the initial stage of its growth phase as the application areas of the product are increasing.
Rising Demand for Touch Screens and Display Screens
The use of cast acrylic sheets for the application of display and signage is increasing worldwide at a fast pace owing to its availability in a range of colors and high strength. Cast acrylic sheets are fivefold stronger than glass. These sheets are increasingly being used for outdoor advertisings. Easy fabrication and ease in printing make cast acrylic sheets best suited for interior designing applications.
Evolving Demand for Cast Acrylic Sheets with Modernization
Due to modernization, the demand for cast acrylic sheets is evolving. Digital screens, signage, and displays are increasingly being used for merchandising and retailing purposes. Cast acrylic sheets are finding applications in advertising, mainly at airports, hotel lobbies, and retail stores. Cast acrylic sheets can be used for internal as well as external applications as they offer excellent heat and weather resistance and have superior strength. Moreover, the lighter weight and cost-effectiveness of cast acrylic sheets drive their applications over conventional materials such as glass and polycarbonates in displays and signage.
Advantages of Cast Acrylic Sheets
Cast acrylic sheets are preferred over glass in several applications owing to their numerous advantages such as high gloss, ease in cleaning, hard surface, and low maintenance costs. Other properties of cast acrylic sheets are glare reduction, anti-fogging, clarity, lightweight, and high strength. Cast acrylic sheets can also be easily molded into a required shape. Hence, the application base of cast acrylic sheets is also increasing in hospitals, furniture, interior designing, and the automotive industry.
High Cost of Cast Acrylic Sheets Compared to Standard Glass
Cast acrylic sheets cost higher than standard glass available in the market. The high cost can be attributed to the manufacturing process and materials used. This may slow down the growth of the cast acrylic sheet market. In addition, glass can be easily recycled, whereas cast acrylic sheets cannot be recycled easily as it is non-biodegradable. Hence, when compared with glass, consumers will opt for glass as it is cheaper and readily available.
Opportunities for Market Participants — BRIC Nations
Manufacturers of cast acrylic sheets can benefit by focusing on emerging nations such as India and China. The demand for cast acrylic sheets is expected to be high in these regions owing to increasing per capita income, urbanization, modernization, improvement in the infrastructure, and others. Emerging nations are open to adopting new technologies and services, and modernization has surged construction in emerging regions. People are focusing on the beautification of their houses, furniture, shops, and other things. Also, shopping malls, cafeterias, and road construction activities are increasing in these regions, providing manufacturers with significant opportunities to expand their sales by tapping these regions.
Use of Cast Acrylic Sheets in Building and Construction
Cast acrylic sheet is finding applications in various sectors such as architecture, interior design, signage and display, automotive, transportation, and sanitary ware. Cast acrylic sheets register high demand in the building and construction sectors for designing various structures due to their strength, durability, and high molecular weight. They are used in structural glazing, heat and storm-resistant windows, submarine view window, and large aquarium cases, among others. They also find application in the automotive and aircraft industry for manufacturing airplane canopy and other parts such as windows.
The demand for cast acrylic sheets is growing across the globe, owing to increasing modernization and construction. Asia-Pacific is expected to dominate the cast acrylic sheets market owing to the increasing infrastructural development and per capita income. In addition, the demand for the product is also expected to be high in North America, followed by Europe, due to a significant number of automotive manufacturers. The Middle East is expected to register moderate growth during the upcoming years owing to the high-quality construction of buildings and infrastructure.
Manufacturers are channelizing efforts to develop novel products for sanitaryware applications. For instance, in July 2018, Margacipta Wirasentosa, an Indonesian acrylic sheet manufacturing company, announced that it has specially developed a new line of cast acrylic sheets for the manufacturing of sanitary ware appliances. This new acrylic sheet is developed with MC cell cast technology and offers high durability, high-quality glass smooth surface, and warm touch.
Numerous players across the world are offering cast acrylic sheets. Some of the prominent manufacturers are listed below.
Other players operating in the cast acrylic sheet market are Evonik, GARY Acrylic Xishun, Elastin International Corp., Jumei Acrylic, Guang Shun Plastic, Taixing Donchamp Acrylic Co., Ltd., and Ningbo Shen Chuen Chemical Co., Ltd. Manufacturers are adopting strategies such as collaboration, business expansion, innovation, and acquisition to strengthen their presence in the competitive market.
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