Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), also known as acrylic or plexiglas, is a high volume amorphous, transparent and colorless commodity thermoplastic that can be easily processed and converted into many finished and semi-finished products. Most commercial grades of PMMA are polymerized by free radical polymerization, yielding atactic polymers whereas anionic polymerization yields syndiotactic or isotactic polymers.
PMMA is made through a process called polymerization. The methyl methacrylate is placed into a mold along with a catalyst that is added to speed up the process. Due to this process, PMMA can be shaped into many forms such as sheets, blocks, resins, and beads. If desired, acrylic glue helps soften the pieces and weld them together.
Laser cut acrylic panels have been used to redirect sunlight into a light pipe or tubular skylight and, from there, to spread it into a room.
Medical technologies and implants
PMMA has a good degree of compatibility with human tissue, and it is used in the manufacture of rigid intraocular lenses which are implanted in the eye when the original lens has been removed in the treatment of cataracts.
Uses in dentistry
Due to its aforementioned biocompatibility, Poly(methyl methacrylate) is a commonly used material in modern dentistry, particularly in the fabrication of dental prosthetics, artificial teeth, and orthodontic appliances.