General Health and Safety Precautions
Care must be taken whenever heating any thermoplastic, including Solarkote® capped film. When fabricating, use good practices consistent with any operation that uses high speed saw blades, bits or drills. The use of machine guards and hold down bars is recommended whenever possible. To avoid burns during thermoforming, the use of thermally protective gloves and sleeves is recommended.
The heat of thermoforming, cutting, machining, finishing, annealing, or otherwise processing Plexiglas® acrylic sheet may result in the release of vapors, including methyl methacrylate (MMA) monomer. In addition, cementing Plexiglas acrylic sheet introduces other vapors relating to the formulation of adhesives. Cutting Plexiglas acrylic sheet may also generate polymer dust. Any dust produced is considered nuisance dust and should be removed with adequate vacuum dust removal at the point of generation. It is important to use adequate ventilation during any processing of Plexiglas® acrylic sheet. High concentrations of MMA vapors can cause eye and respiratory irritation, headache and nausea. Preferably the ventilation should be as close to the point of vapor generation as possible.
Flammability The ignition temperature of Plexiglas® acrylic sheet is higher than that of most woods, but it will ignite readily. Take precautions when flame polishing, laser cutting or any operation that requires intense heat so that the Plexiglas® acrylic sheet will not ignite. Plexiglas® acrylic burns vigorously and generates heat rapidly. Burning Plexiglas® acrylic sheet does not produce excessive quantities of smoke or gases more toxic than those produced by wood or paper. The concentration of carbon monoxide and/or carbon dioxide released by burning Plexiglas® acrylic sheet depends on the quantity of Plexiglas® acrylic sheet involved and the condition of burning.
Storage & Handling Plexiglas® acrylic sheet is a combustible thermoplastic material. In general the same fire precautions that are observed in connection with the handling and use of any ordinary combustible material should be observed when handling and storing or using Plexiglas® acrylic sheet. Avoid exposure to extreme heat or aromatic solvents.
General Joining Comments
Pieces fabricated from Plexiglas® acrylic sheet may be joined using mechanical methods such as bolts, thermal methods such as welding, or chemical methods such as cementing. The following sections discuss the techniques commonly used to cement Plexiglas® acrylic sheet to itself and to other materials.
Cementing Plexiglas® acrylic sheet is relatively easy, but proper techniques must be practiced to avoid problems. The two most common problems are crazing and poor joint strength.
Acrylic plastics will eventually craze when subjected to high stresses for a long time. Crazing is a network of fine cracks running on, or slightly under, the surface of plastics materials. The tendency to craze is greatly increased when the stressed material is exposed to a solvent or to solvent vapors. Most of the cements described in this manual may craze Plexiglas® acrylic sheet if used improperly.