Why use Acrylic?
There are many reasons to use acrylic in your next build.
It is widely accepted that acrylic is 16-17 times stronger than glass of the same thickness, with much better impact resistance. Because the joints are chemically bonded, not simply siliconed together, they are also stronger as well, and much more appealing visually.
Acrylic is slightly less than half the weight of glass of the same thickness. This allows for easier moving, installations, less expensive shipping, and will require less manpower to move the items. Your friends will be more willing to help you move a large sump or tank when they know it is made of acrylic.
Forming /machining characteristics:
Because acrylic is a thermoplastic it can be formed in many ways which makes design possibilities almost limitless. Custom curves and bends are much easier to do with acrylic, and sometimes impossible to do with glass. Glass has limitations on size while acrylic does not. For many custom shapes and unique designs, there is no other choice. Acrylic is the perfect material for laser cutting. Not only do C02 Lasers cut it well, but it is also possible for anyone to drill their own acrylic sump or tank themselves with off the shelf drill bits. No need for special equipment if you want to add a bulkhead or hole for a hose.
Acrylic is manufactured in many colors and textures. This allow you to create a totally custom look. Colored acrylic also allows sections to have light transmission diffused or totally blocked it certain areas. This is great in refugiums!
Better visual properties:
Acrylic of any thickness is clearer than glass due to its natural composition and properties. It is the clearest material in the aquarium industry used in manufacturing. USA made acrylic does not have a greenish tint and will not turn yellow like cheaper chinese acrylics that are being mass produce could. Acrylic will not distort like glass will, especially when viewed at an angle. It also has a better light transmission level. Objects appear sharper, colors are more vibrant.
Better insulating properties:
Acrylic will not conduct heat and cold as well as glass will, thus making it a better insulator. Acrylic aquariums and sumps will regulate and minimize temperature fluctuations better, giving you a more stable system. This saves you on electricity, as your heater (or chiller) does not need to work as hard.
Acrylic is refinishable:
The one concern that customers have is that acrylic scratches easier than glass. This is true. However, it is possible to refinish acrylic if it gets scratched. Scratches in acrylic are easily preventable with proper care and precautions. When cleaning the exterior, never wipe it with a dry cloth. Always use an approved acrylic cleaner or water as a lubricant. Scratching is usually the #1 concern of persons considering an acrylic tank, and is easily preventable with proper care.