Acrylic. This lightweight, clear plastic can be cut, glued, heated, bent and shaped into many items used to hold, display and cover artifacts while in storage and on exhibit. As a substitute for glass, acrylic offers clarity without the expense, weight and potential for breakage. But acrylic products are innately static—attracting dust—and easily scratched and scuffed.
Here are a few simple steps to follow that will help keep your acrylic display items in good shape for years to come.
Please note: This page applies to standard and UV-filtering acrylic but may not apply to Optium and other specialty acrylics.
The possibility of damage to acrylic is especially high during storage. Glued edges can split, abrasions can mar the surface, and cracking and breakage are all possible if items are not stored properly.
- Wrap/cover each piece with a nonabrasive material, such as tissue, polyethylene foam or polyethylene bags.
- Like items of different sizes (such as risers) can be "nested" as long as they are not touching. Items can be stacked, once wrapped, if supported properly. Do not place any weight on top of vitrines.
- Store items on a shelf on the edge with the most strength. Do not lay vitrines on sides where there will be strain on the glued edges. Stand vitrines on bottom edges, as they would be when on a base, or turn upside down and rest on the top.
- Keep items wrapped during transport to the new location.
- Minimize fingerprints by wearing gloves. Antistatic gloves will dissipate static and reduce dust, as well as protect against fingerprints.
- Never carry or hold a vitrine by its sides, as this will weaken the glued edges. Hold upright, supporting bottom edges.
- Glass cleaners will cause streaking. Use cleaners that are specially formulated for acrylic/plexiglass.
- Use a nonabrasive, low-lint cleaning cloth. Antistatic cleaning cloths also help to reduce the static charge that attracts dust.
- An acrylic scratch remover, such as Novus, can buff out most surface abrasions and some deeper scratches.