Acrylic vs. Polystyrene: What's the Difference?
Acrylic is a transparent plastic material with outstanding strength and optical clarity, while polystyrene is a lightweight, typically non-transparent thermoplastic used in a variety of applications.
Acrylic, known as polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), offers excellent optical clarity and is often used as a glass alternative. Polystyrene, a petroleum-based plastic, is less clear and often used in the production of disposable consumer goods.
Acrylic sheets are valued for their durability and resistance to impact, making them suitable for windows, screens, and aquariums. Polystyrene, on the other hand, is more brittle and prone to cracking under stress.
The thermal insulation properties of polystyrene make it ideal for use in packaging and insulation. Acrylic, however, has a higher resistance to UV light and weathering, which is why it's preferred for outdoor applications.
In terms of fabrication, acrylic can be easily cut, shaped, and bonded with adhesives and solvents. Polystyrene can also be molded into various forms, but it is less versatile when it comes to bonding techniques.
Acrylic is generally more expensive than polystyrene due to its superior properties and the more complex manufacturing process. Polystyrene is a more cost-effective option for many everyday products due to its ease of production and lower material cost.
Often opaque or translucent
More resistant to impact
Brittle and less impact-resistant
High resistance to UV and weathering
Less resistant to UV and can degrade in sunlight
Not typically used for insulation
Commonly used for thermal insulation
Acrylic and Polystyrene Definitions
The artist chose acrylic for its quick-drying properties.
Polystyrene is widely used in model-making.
Acrylic is used to make various craft items.
Food service use.
We received our takeaway in polystyrene containers.
Acrylic resins are used in making dentures.
The product was protected by a polystyrene foam casing.
Her sweater was made of soft, warm acrylic yarn.
Polystyrene boards are common in home insulation.
Acrylic panels were installed in the greenhouse.
Expanded polystyrene beads are used in bean bags.
An acrylic resin.
A rigid clear thermoplastic polymer of styrene that can be molded into objects or made into a foam that is used as thermal insulation.
A paint containing acrylic resin.
(organic chemistry) A vinylic polymer of styrene, CH2CHphenyl.
A painting done in acrylic resin.
(organic chemistry) An alkane chain of benzene molecules, RCH2CHphenylR.
A polymer of styrene; a rigid transparent thermoplastic;
Expanded polystyrene looks like a rigid white foam and is used as packing or insulation
Is acrylic more durable than polystyrene?
Yes, acrylic is generally more impact-resistant and durable.
What is acrylic commonly used for?
It's used for items like aquariums, signs, and protective barriers.
Can polystyrene be recycled?
Yes, though its recycling is less common than other plastics.
Are acrylic items expensive?
They can be, due to the material’s superior qualities and production costs.
How does sunlight affect polystyrene?
Sunlight can degrade polystyrene over time.
What are the main characteristics of polystyrene?
It's lightweight, easily moldable, and often used for insulation.
Why is acrylic preferred for outdoor applications?
Its resistance to UV light and weathering makes it suitable for outdoors.
What are the disadvantages of polystyrene?
Its brittleness and environmental impact are considered disadvantages.
Can acrylic be used in place of glass?
Yes, it's often used as a shatterproof alternative to glass.
How is polystyrene typically formed into products?
Through processes like injection molding and extrusion.
Can you use acrylic as insulation?
It's not typically used for insulation due to its cost and properties.
Is polystyrene harmful to the environment?
It can be, especially if not disposed of or recycled properly.
Is acrylic a type of plastic?
Yes, it's a type of thermoplastic.
Are acrylic products scratch-resistant?
They are more scratch-resistant than polystyrene but can still be scratched.
What is expanded polystyrene?
It's a foam version of polystyrene, used for cushioning or insulation.
Can acrylic be molded?
Yes, it can be thermoformed into different shapes.
Is polystyrene flammable?
It can be flammable and is often treated with flame retardants.
How do you clean acrylic surfaces?
With soapy water and a soft cloth; avoiding abrasives.
Why is polystyrene often used for disposable items?
Because it's cheap to produce and lightweight.
What makes polystyrene suitable for packaging?
Its cushioning effect and thermal insulation properties.
Written bySumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited bySawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.