Difference Between Lucite and Plastic (With Table)

Plastics are used extensively in a variety of ways. From polyethylene carry bags, straws, plastic bottles, pipes, syringes, containers to being used in making automobile parts and even in space stations, plastics are a versatile material utilized in preparing so many necessary items. Still, the fact that plastics are non-biodegradable and hazardous to the environment cannot be ignored. There are so many types of plastics like low-density polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, lucite, etc.

Lucite vs Plastic

The difference between lucite and plastic is that plastic is a much broader term compared to lucite and it includes lucite, i.e. lucite is a kind of plastic. Plastic is a synthetic or semi-synthetic polymer that is made up of repeated components called monomers while lucite is a transparent thermoplastic and is the trade name of polymethyl methyl acrylate.

Lucite is more transparent, denser, stronger, and heavier compared to plastic which can be transparent as well as opaque and is usually lighter, weaker, and less dense than lucite. Plastics can be easily molded in shape while lucite needs to be engraved since the former is fragile and weaker compared to the latter which is denser and stronger. 

Comparison Table Between Lucite and Plastic

Parameters of Comparison LucitePlastic
Definition Lucite is a transparent thermoplastic and is the trade name of polymethyl methyl acrylate. It is an acrylic material.Plastic is a synthetic or semi-synthetic polymer that is made up of repeated components called monomers.
Weight comparison Lucite is heavier compared to plastic.Plastics are lighter and fragile compared to lucite.
Appearance Lucite has the properties of plastic as well as glass and is thus transparent and clearer than plastic.Plastic is usually opaque though it may be transparent also.
DensityLucite is denser compared to plastic.Plastic is not as dense as lucite.
NatureLucite is acrylic and transparent and needs to be engraved. Plastic is synthetic or semi-synthetic and can be molded into things.
Strength comparison Lucite is stronger than plastic and it needs to be carved out.Plastic is fragile and weaker compared to lucite and it can be easily molded.

What is Lucite?

Lucite is a trading name for polymethyl methyl acrylate or PMMA, which is also known as acrylic or plexiglass or acrylic glass. Other trading names for PMMA are Crylux, Plexiglas, Acrylite, Astariglas, Perspex, Perclax, etc. It is a thermoplastic with a density of around 1.2g/cm3. It is a high-quality plastic having the properties of both, plastic and glass.

It may sometimes be referred to as a type of glass thus the name acrylic glass or plexiglass. It is a synthetic polymer made of the subunits of methyl methacrylate. It is sometimes used as an alternative to glasses. It has high tensile strength, is denser, heavier, and clearer compared to plastics.

There are many methods to prepare lucite, the most common being radical polymerization. Almost all commercial PMMAs are prepared from radical polymerization. Some of the methods are emulsion polymerization, solution polymerization, bulk polymerization, and radical polymerization.

What is Plastic?

Plastics are polymers made of repeated units called monomers. They are prepared from petrochemicals like petroleum or natural gas which is in turn produced by refining crude oil. Since plastics are non-biodegradable and hazardous to the environment, safer alternatives to prepare them are 

The use of plastics is widespread. We come across a variety of plastics in our daily lives. Some of the products made from plastics are toys, toothbrushes, polyethylene bags, syringes, pipes, water bottles, and so many other things. It’s even used in vehicles, space stations, medical equipment, construction, etc.

They can be easily molded or pressed into various shapes and sizes. They are lighter, flexible, and durable and therefore there is a wide range of plastics. There can be various considerations while categorizing plastics like their physical properties or chemical properties or their production methods or their qualities.

Some of the common types of plastics are as follows:

  1. Specialist plastics
  2. Common plastics
  3. Amorphous plastics 
  4. Crystalline plastics
  5. Biodegradable plastics 
  6. Bioplastics
  7. Thermoplastics 
  8. Thermosetting polymers
  9. Conductive polymers

In plastics, various types of additives are added to enhance their function and durability. The common additives added to plastics are plasticizers, stabilizers, flame retardants, fillers, reinforcements, colorants, biocides, and release agents.

Some examples of plastics are:

  1. Bakelite

This was the first plastic prepared from phenol and formaldehyde.

  1. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

This is made from the monomers of vinyl chloride.

  1. Polystyrene

It’s made from the monomers of styrene.

  1. Nylon

There are different types of nylons, like nylon6, nylon66, nylon11, etc.

  1. Polyethylene

It is made of the subunits of ethylene and is a very common example of plastics.

Main Differences Between Lucite and Plastic

  1. Lucite is a thermoplastic and is the trade name of polymethyl methyl acrylate while plastic is a synthetic or semi-synthetic polymer that is made up of repeated components called monomers.
  2. Lucite is more transparent and clearer than plastic which can be transparent as well as opaque.
  3. There are many types of plastics as plastic is a broader term while lucite itself is a type of plastic having properties of plastic and glass.
  4. Plastic being more delicate than lucite, can be molded into things while lucite needs to be carved out.
  5. Lucite is heavier, denser, and stronger than plastics.
  6. There are many categories of plastics while lucite doesn’t have any such category.

Conclusion

We are quite familiar with plastics as we come across a lot of materials made from them in our daily life. Lucite is the brand name for polymethyl methyl acrylate which is also a type of plastic. Lucite is a transparent thermoplastic while plastics are synthetic or semisynthetic polymers made up of smaller subunits called monomers.

There are many types of plastics and lucite is also a kind of plastic that has both the properties of plastic and glass. Lucite is clearer and heavier than plastics. Besides, lucite is denser and stronger than plastics so it needs to be carved out while plastics being fragile, could be molded into things.

References

  1. https://aip.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1063/1.1777084
  2. https://aip.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1063/1.1777084
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