Acrylic fabrication is the practice of forming a piece of durable plastic into an item. The first step in the process is to make a form or prepare some kind of object that is in the desired shape. Then the acrylic is heated until it is pliable and draped over the object. Once it is in place, the piece is formed with the aid of compressed air and a vacuum. A dye may also be used to help press the piece into shape.
There are several different kinds of tools that can be used for large-scale acrylic fabrication. They include the machining lathe, which is used to cut sheets of plastic, and the milling machine, which moves pieces through the process. There are also polishing machines which use a variety of settings to finish the final product. The process may also include using an annealing machine, which heats the plastic in order to relieve it of stress. Some companies also use a laser machine to cut pieces or to engrave the acrylic.
Depending on the capability of the company, pieces can be made in a wide array of shapes and sizes using the acrylic fabrication process. While small to medium-sized items are for the most part easily attainable, very large pieces are handled by businesses with specialized equipment. As there are so many products that can be made with acrylic fabrication, many companies specialize in a particular area, such as museum display cases.
Several different kinds of effects can be achieved with acrylic fabrication. Factors such as thickness, shape, and complexity of design can be endlessly varied. The process can also provide diverse finishes, from a frosted matte style to a high gloss finish. There are also many ways to polish the acrylic, including diamond edge and flame polishing or hand buffing.
Acrylic fabrication is often a more desirable way to make an item rather than making glass. It is a less expensive and simpler process. The end product also tends to be lighter and more durable.
There are several products that are made via acrylic fabrication. The process is a particularly popular way to make display cases such as for museum exhibits. The material is also often used in place of glass for items such as windshields for motorcycles. It may also be used to create light fixtures, signs, and any other items commonly made out of strong plastic.