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Acrylic vs. Glass

Generally speaking as the thickness of the glass increases, its optical properties decline.

While glass is more resistant to scratching than acrylic, this does not preclude the possibility of it scratching entirely. In situations where acrylic could become excessively scratched, glass will eventually scratch as well. The primary difference between acrylic and glass is that when glass scratches it is difficult, if not impossible to repair the scratches. The only solution at that point is to fully replace the glass panel. Additionally, when there is a crack or other imperfection in glass, it cannot be repaired.

When designing water-retaining structures that utilize glass, the windows need to be constructed of laminated tempered panes. Tempered glass is stronger than standard annealed glass and has higher impact resistance. If tempered glass breaks, it fractures into small shards, in the same manor as vehicle safety glass. Standard annealed glass will break into large, dangerous shards.

Acrylic is 17 times stronger and half the weight of glass. Additionally glass is an unpredictable substance in there is always a breakage possibility due to flaws in the material. When designing with glass we can only lower the possibility of failure, never completely eliminate it. Acrylic on the other hand is predictable in its performance allowing us to design panels well beyond their failure point.

Clarity

Acrylic is 89% more transparent then glass of the same thickness. Allowing for increased viewing aesthetics.

Insulation

Acrylic has superior insulating capabilities when compared to glass. In fact almost 30% better. This means a more consistent temperature control for sensitive fish. Additionally the use of an acrylic display can eliminate common perspiration experienced in temperate or cold water systems.

Strength

Acrylic is 16 to 17 times stronger then glass in terms of shear strength. Additionally acrylic is far more impact resistant. These superior properties can protect your investment against unforeseen impacts.

Distortion

Acrylic distorts objects less than glass when viewing through curvatures.

Refraction

Acrylic has close to the same index of refraction as water. This means less distortion and a more realistic picture of aquarium inhabitants.

Bonding

Conventional glass aquariums are sealed using silicone, which has several disadvantages. Silicone not only leaves unsightly bond lines where panels are joined together, it has significantly less tensile and shear strength then acrylic bonds. Acrylic is chemically bonded together and here at SeaQuatic Aquariums we utilize a proprietary chemical bonding process that nearly matches the strength of the original material.

Shapes

Acrylic can be easily thermoformed into almost any shape.