Plexiglas v. Cyro


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jun 12, 2003
North Carolina - Picture Framing Capital of the Wo
We've used Cyro Acrylite for years. Lately we've been approached about switching suppliers. The only thing is they sell Plexiglas branded sheet. Our coroplast, acrylic, etc all come from the same place and the new guys sell all that - the only difference is Plexiglas vs Acrylite.

Anyone out there use Plexi? Problems,advantages, disadvantages? We'll switch if it's better/cheaper but don't want to make a dumb/bad move.


Why not ask for some samples of the Plexiglas and play around with it? I have not used that brand name because I hadn't had any reason to shop around for something other than Acrylite. But they should be able to supply you with some samples if they want your business.

(I'd be curious to know what you find out.)

This may be a mute point. As I was told form a lady that called me from Tru Vue that Cryo Acrylite sold Tru Vue the exclusive to selling the Acrylite and regular plastic distrubutors could no longer sell it.
The one time I used Plexiglas it worked fine - cut clean, clear, etc. I got it from a glass supplier ($$$) and it was a bit pricier than the Acryite we normally use. I'm curious about any long-term differences between the two - yellowing, fogging, etc.

Bill - I hope that's not the case.
The Cyro I get currently is listed as ".125" on the invoice. The LJ catalog lists TruVue Acrylite as ".118." Maybe TV has an exclusive on .118??

Plexiglass makes both paper masked and plastic masked. Always specify paper masked cryo makes [lastic masked too
We need a plastics person in here.

I've always assumed
that Plexiglas and Acrylite were both brand names for acrylic and essentially the same type of material.

I like Cyro's quality, their support of our industry, the available OP-3 (U-V blocking) and A/R (abrasion-resident) flavors, but I never thought that Plexiglas and Acrylite were fundamentally different materials.

Where's Lois Bauby been, anyway?

I thought so too until I had a piece of each in the shop. Both sheets were the same thickness, the Cyro could be easily propped against the wall and the Plexi brand would slump and fall in the floor. Also, when you look at the cut edge of the plexi, it has a blue or green tint like cheap glass. The Cyro is crystal clear. I also thought that that explained the price difference.

It is like comparing different mat board companies. They can look just alike on paper. However, your gut feelings about them may be totally different.
Well, I am by no means an expert, but this is what I've found here. I order from Snapvent which is a local plastics dealer. When I order "regular" it comes in the blue plastic, and yeah has a sorta greenish color to the edges. When I order n/g, u/v, or u/v/n/g, (can't remember the numbers - op3 etc) they come with the paper wrapping. They tell me it's all acrylic, but that's just the way it comes.

Well now, let me shift gears... I just called my dealer and this is what he said:

Plexiglas is a brand - just like Jif is a peanut butter brand, Cyro is the manufacturer of the brand Acrylite (I think he said Dupont manufacturered the Plexiglas brand.)

Bottom line - it's all the same thing - namely "acrylic". The reason for the plastic vs paper wrap is all about money. He said the way the prices are going up, it will all be wrapped in plastic eventually.

So - different brands of the same product and like everything else, some brands are better (and more costly) than others.

By the way, I get Cyro from him.

Bottom line - it's all the same thing - namely "acrylic".
If we can say that, then I can say all matboards are the same. There are many different companies and processes, but they are all matboards.

Toyota and Cadillac both have four tires four doors and a steering wheel. They are all the same. A car is a car.

Sorry Betty, I'm not picking a fight. I just feel like it goes a little deeper than that.
No problem Jerry. I just mean that plexiglas and acrylite are both acrylic abeit much different quality acrylic.

There are "40 jillion" different kinds of plastic, and "plexiglas" is not just another plastic. (Even if most of my customers think it is.) It is acrylic.

But be honest now, how many times have you (all) just called it all "plexi" regardless of what it was? It has become one of those "Kleenex" type of terms. (I've often called it "Capturing the Mental Market Share.")

I (personally) find that if I want to impress someone, I call it "acrylic." But for everyone else it's "plexi."

Sometimes I catch myself thinking that Lucite, Lexan and some other brands are also interchangeable with acrylic, though many of those products are really designed for the building industry and not at all suitable for glazing in picture frames.

The one thing I've been very clear about (no pun intended) is that Stryrene, that paper-thin plastic that comes in pre-made poster frames, is rarely, if ever, a suitable glazing.
Lexan is a brand name for polycarbonate. It's harder than acrylic, but isn't as clear and discolors over time. Acrylic is said to be the best non-glass framing glazing.
Originally posted by B. Newman:
...Bottom line - it's all the same thing - namely "acrylic". The reason for the plastic vs paper wrap is all about money...
Not exactly. All acrylic is not alike. There are at least three ways of making acrylic sheet.

Also, the quality of the raw material determines a lot. for example, if there's particulate debris in the plastic being molded/extruded, then it will become a flaw in a sheet.

The inspection process is important, too. Some makers will let almost anything go by. Others are more particular. Cyro has at least two grades of their "standard" glazing acrylic.
I have to start off by telling you the following information is at least 12 years old so take it for what it is.
I was buying Plexiglas brand acrylic for several years and always had a problem with small black dots inside the acrylic that always seemed to be where I couldn't cut around them. Every sheet had a few and I just thought that was the nature of the beast. Then I found a new supplier that handles Cyro. Lo and dots. I haven't used a piece of Plexiglas since so I have no idea if the problem has been fixed but in my mind I always consider Cyro to be of a higher quality than Plexiglas. For the few bucks you'd save I'd stick to Cyro.
The black dots are carbon debree. If you go to a trade show take the class by Cyro for free. It is pretty neat to learn about what these materials actually are that we use on a daily basis.
Patrick Leeland
I use Cyro Acrylic in all of my frames, and I currently only use paper. When I first started I was cutting the Acrylic on Fletcher 3100, which is a score, and snap method. That will not work with the plastic coating. I have recently purchased a few sheets of plastic coated acrylic to try out and will probably switch to it because it is so much easier to remove and less expensive. The only drawbacks, I am aware of, are it will not hold up well to handling, or long term storage.


Frame Destination, Inc.
Dallas, TX
I was a plastic fabricator for many years. The main difference between acrylics is whether they are cast or extruded. The cast is the best because it has low and uniform stresses. It is literally poured into molds, hence the name cast and allowed to cure slowly. Extruded acrylic is melted and then pressed through a die and cooled very quickly. This sets up many stresses and makes the material more brittle and sensitive to crazing.

Cast is easier to polish, cut and route. Extruded can chip if it is cut too quickly. Extruded when heated and glued will craze. Cast is more resistant. Extruded is less apt to discolor because it was formed using thermodynamic processes, whereas the cast system is a chemical reaction that never ceases.

Quality furniture is usually made from cast acrylic. This is mainly due to its optical qualities and its workability.
I don't believe that cast acrylic discolors over time. I've seen cast acrylic articles from the 50's or earlier and it is perfectly clear. All types of PMMA are polymerized at some point!

Acrylic sheet is produced by several different methods. Cell cast is a high molecular weight acrylic made by polymerizing the the monomer between highly polished plates of glass. It has high edge clarity and can handle continuous stress loads without crazing. It has poor thickness tolerance compared to other types due to mold shrinkage (note the wide tolerances given by manufacturers). It is not the best choice for high detail thermalforming. It is also the most expensive.

Continuous cast sheet is made by polymerizing acrylic monomer between two highly polished moving belts. It is a more economical way of making cast sheets, but with a reduction in optical clarity.

Next is extruded and continuous processed. This acrylic has a few percent of Ethyl methacrylate added to make it flow easier when heated so it can be thermoformed to greater detail. This lends itself to be extruded or processed to make sheets. Continuous processed sheet is made by running the hot liquid acrylic between highly polished rollers or belts. It makes a nice high polished sheet with high thickness tolerance and low distortion. Edge coloration may show a faint gray or color tint, but it is still far clearer than the green edge of standard soda-lime glass. This type of acrylic is not as resistant to crazing from stress or chemicals as is cast, but it does quite well for glazing and other purposes.

You can tell the type of acrylic it is (if not indicated) by igniting a small sample, cast burns with a distinct crackle sound. Extruded burns silently or near so. Acrylic burns with no smoke and char. If it does it ain't acrylic – it could be a cheap substitute like styrene.

Although acrylic is softer than glass, it has the hardest surface relative to other clear plastics such as polycarbonate and styrene and no other clear plastic can stand up to UV and weather exposure better. Standard acrylic blocks the mid frequency band of UV light that regular glass passes, making it a better choice for protecting prints from fading.

There are other types of acrylic such as impact modified, cross linked mil-spec, but these are not typically used in the framing business.

This is probably much more than you ever wanted to know!