Designing with Plastics

This issue of
Designing with Plastics
has been brought to you by:

Westlake Plastics Company

An ePublication of the International Association of Plastics Distribution

January 2008 | Focus: Acrylic

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Frosted acrylic sheet helps OfficeMax shine


In a retail environment where consumers make quick purchasing decisions, successful logos are even more important for driving sales and establishing customer loyalty. As a result, when OfficeMax recently decided to differentiate its brand by switching the color motif of its corporate logo from a standard red to white and black, the change needed to be clearly communicated to consumers at retail locations.

OfficeMax turned to North American Signs to create and manage the installation of new exterior signage at over 200 locations nationwide. Seeking an innovative material to create large-format LED channel letters, North American Signs found that frosted acrylic sheet offered the unique combination of aesthetics and performance necessary for the project.

Quality from the start

For the OfficeMax sign redesign project, North American Signs conceptualized 6-foot internally illuminated LED channel letters that would incorporate the corporate white/black color scheme. For the face of the signs to truly stand out, the firm needed a material that could not only withstand exposure to the outdoor environment, but also provide high light transmission and create a unique lighting effect able to grasp consumer attention. As they were researching material to fabricate the first set of new channel letters for an OfficeMax store near Cleveland, OH, USA, Doug McCoige, director of operations at North American Signs, came across frosted acrylic sheet when attending an industry trade show.

Specially formulated to provide a frosted appearance throughout its composition, frosted acrylic sheet possesses unique optical properties that evenly diffuse light without the use of a diffuser film, making it ideal for backlit applications. The acrylic sheet incorporates a textured surface that works to hide scratches, enhancing the service life of exterior signs that can be exposed to debris and other environmental elements.

View the complete article online.

In This Issue:
Application Focus: Frosted Acrylic Sheet
OfficeMax finds a sign solution with frosted acrylic sheet.

About Acrylic
Acrylic, one of plastic’s most colorful materials, has many benefits.

Test Your Knowledge
What do you know about acrylic?

Online Plastic Resources
IAPD offers many online search resources at and, including distributor, trade name and fabrication capability searches.

Find an IAPD Plastics Distributor or Processor

Search for Suppliers by Trade Name or Material and Shape

Search for Plastics Fabrication Capabilities

Search Other Plastics Articles Published by IAPD

View Past Issues of Designing with Plastics


About IAPD
The International Association of Plastics Distribution, founded in 1956, is an international trade association comprised of companies engaged in the distribution and manufacture of plastics materials.

Members include plastics distributors, processors, manufacturers, resin manufacturers, manufacturers’ representatives and associated products and services, all of whom are dedicated to the distribution channel.

About Acrylic

Acrylic thermoplastics (PMMA — polymethyl methacrylate) are products of polymerization of acrylic esters. The materials are available in cast sheet, continuous cast and extruded sheet, film and a number of small pellets for injection molding and extrusion. Tubes and rods can also be cast or extruded.

Cell-cast sheet is produced in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. The largest sheets available are 120'' x 144'' (3 × 3.5 m). Thicknesses range from 0.030'' to 4.25'' (0.75 mm to 110 mm). Continuous cast material is supplied as flat sheet and in coils in lengths to 600' (15 m) and widths to 110'' (2.8 m). Maximum thickness is ½'' (13 mm). Acrylic sheet cast in the continuous process (between stainless steel belts) is more uniform in thickness than cell-cast sheet. However, cell-cast sheet, which is cast between glass plates, has superior optical properties and surface qualities. Also, cell-cast sheet is available in a greater variety of colors and compositions. Cast acrylic sheet is supplied in general-purpose grades and in ultraviolet absorbing, mirrored and superthermoformable sheet grades.

All cast grades are strong, stable, weather resistant and thermoformable. Sheets are also available in transparent, translucent and opaque colors, and in a variety of surface textures.

For more information on acrylic and other plastic materials, IAPD’s Introduction to Plastics is an invaluable training manual. Information about it and other IAPD educational resources are available online at

Test Your Knowledge

What do you know about acrylic? Answers are at

1. What is the best way to repair scratched acrylic mirror backing?

  1. scratches cannot be repaired
  2. polish with wax
  3. treat with a lamb’s wool pad and buff with a light abrasive rubbing compound
  4. apply a small amount of argent (silver metallic) paint over the scratch

2. Which material has the lowest maximum continuous service temperature?

  1. extruded acrylic
  2. cast acrylic
  3. polycarbonate
  4. polysulphone

Online Plastic Resources

Your IAPD Distributor is your choice in finding the right material for your application. Go to to find a distributor in your area. You can search by company name, location or product category.

The IAPD Magazine web site at allows you to search by material, trade name and fabrication process. You can also search for fabrication capabilities.

Westlake Plastics Company

© 2008

International Association of Plastics Distribution
4707 College Blvd., Suite 105
Leawood, KS 66211 -1667 USA |
Phone: +913.345.1005 | Fax: +913.345.1006

Designing with Plastics is published by the International Association of Plastics Distribution. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, IAPD encourages you to verify information with a plastics distributor to ensure you select the correct plastics products to meet your needs.

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