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polyacrylics (pŏlˌēəkrĭlˈĭks) [key], group of thermoplastics that are transparent and highly decorative (see plastic). The polyacrylics, or acrylic plastics, are polymers (and copolymers) of derivatives of acrylic acid, H2C&eq;CHCOOH. The best-known acrylic plastic, sold under the trade names Plexiglas and Lucite, is polymethyl methacrylate. It takes a high polish, is clear and colorless, and is transparent to visible and ultraviolet light. Since it is a thermoplastic, it can be shaped while hot to form a number of objects, such as windshields for airplanes and transparent ornamental objects. Other esters of acrylic acid and methylacrylic acid similarly polymerize and copolymerize to transparent thermoplastics, differing somewhat in hardness and in softening temperatures.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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