The key difference between Lucite and Acrylic is that the Lucite is the tradename for polymethyl methacrylate whereas Acrylic is the general chemical name of polymethyl methacrylate.
Acrylate polymers are what we call plastics. They have noted transparency, resistance to breakage, elasticity, etc. Therefore, in general, we call them acrylic polymers. The most common type among these polymers is polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). Therefore, we call this polymer as “acrylic” or by its trade name “Lucite”.
What is Lucite?
Lucite is the tradename of polymethyl methacrylate. Other well-known tradenames are Crylux, Plexiglass, Acrylite, and Perspex. It is a transparent thermoplastic polymer. It is important as an alternative to glass in its sheet form. Moreover, it is useful as a cast resin in inks and coatings.
The IUPAC name of this polymer is Poly(methyl 2-methyl propanoate). The chemical formula of the repeating unit of the polymer is (C5O2H8)n, and the molar mass varies. The density is 1.18 g/cm3, and the melting point is 160 °C. There are three major ways of synthesizing this polymer; emulsion polymerization, solution polymerization and bulk polymerization.
In addition, this polymer is strong, tough and has a lightweight. The density of this polymer is less than half of the density of glass. However, it has a higher impact strength than glass and polystyrene. Apart from that, this polymer can transmit around 92% of visible light, thus, it can also filter UV light having wavelength below 300 nm.
What is Acrylic?
Acrylic is the common chemical name of polymethyl methacrylate. However, this polymer has many other uses as follows:
- Acrylic fiber (a synthetic fiber of polyacrylonitrile)
- Acrylic glass (Perspex)
- Acrylic paint (a paint which has pigments in an acrylic polymer suspension)
- Acrylic resin (a group of thermoplastic or thermosetting polymers)
- Acrylate polymer (a group of a polymer having noted transparency)
What is the Difference Between Lucite and Acrylic?
Lucite is the tradename of polymethyl methacrylate. Acrylic is the common chemical name of polymethyl methacrylate. Therefore, both names refer the same chemical compound. The only difference between Lucite and Acrylic is their usage. That is, the Acrylic is a well-known thermoplastic polymer that is highly transparent, and it has many applications including its use as an alternative to glass.
Summary – Lucite vs Acrylic
The difference between Lucite and acrylic is that the Lucite is the tradename for polymethyl methacrylate whereas acrylic is the common chemical name of polymethyl methacrylate. Therefore, both names indicate the same chemical compound, only the use of these names is different.
1. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Lucite.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 29 May 2012. Available here
2. “Poly(Methyl Methacrylate).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 Aug. 2018. Available here