Display cases are a staple in consumer-facing industries and are becoming increasingly popular for home use. They’re a great way to protect and display merchandise, collectibles, and other important items. While the value of a display case is clear, determining the best material for your display case isn’t always straightforward. Choosing the best display case depends on your specific needs, rather than a one-size-fits-all situation.
Acrylic and glass display cases both have utility – however, at shopPOPdisplays, we believe that acrylic, also known as plexiglass, is the ideal material for suiting everyday customer needs. Read on to learn more about how acrylic display cases differ from those made of glass.
Differences between Acrylic and Glass
From a chemistry standpoint, glass is made from silica, also known as sand. Acrylic is made from plastic, but looks and feels similar to glass. A glass display case is like sand at the beach; pretty to look at, but collapses when you let go of it in your hands. Acrylic is up to seventeen times more impact resistant than a sheet of glass that’s the same size, shape, and thickness. This means that even if your acrylic display case is knocked over or hit with a projectile, it may not break – and that certainly means it can sustain typical wear and tear.
Glass display cases are also heavier than acrylic display cases. This not only makes arranging it in the right space an exhausting endeavor, but it also makes glass more expensive to ship. For price-conscious buyers, shipping and handling costs for something as large as a display case is a serious consideration.
On the other hand, acrylic display cases are very lightweight, since acrylic panels are 50 percent lighter than glass. This makes acrylic a great choice for lightweight or wall-mounted display cases.
Benefits of Acrylic Over Glass
There are many benefits to choosing an acrylic display case over a glass one. Here are some of the top benefits.
One of the primary concerns when choosing between a glass or acrylic case is its aesthetic properties. In most cases, acrylic display cases outshine glass.
Acrylic has better optical clarity than most forms of glass. The only glass that can match acrylic’s optical clarity is specially designed and comes with a steep markup.
Glass also has a very subtle green tint to it, while acrylic is inherently clear. That being said, acrylic can easily be dyed or tinted any color, allowing it to more closely mimic the appearance of glass if needed.
Acrylic also has low light reflection properties, which is ideal for brightly lit rooms. If a spotlight is pointed on a glass display case, onlookers will have a better view of their own reflection than the object inside. However, if a spotlight is shone on an acrylic display case, it will reflect soft light back at the viewer which won’t obscure the item on display.
Glass is occasionally chosen over acrylic when a high-class, museum-like appearance is essential. This is because glass is subjectively viewed as a timeless classic despite its visual drawbacks. However, for the average, consumer-facing function, acrylic is the clear choice.
It’s inevitable – unless you isolate a display case from view, it risks mistreatment by employees or viewers. For example, imagine that an employee accidentally slammed a glass display case’s door. It will shatter in a way that turns heads, leaving glass shards scattered on the ground, and the items exposed. People may need to be blocked off from the area while cleanup takes place. Yikes!
However, an acrylic display case can save the day! It will likely absorb this impact without cracking and even if it does happen to break, the fragments of acrylic will not result in sharp, dangerous edges. This trait is especially important in items such as jewelry display cases, where valuables may be stored. Overall, an acrylic display case will not only save your items, but also save you a laborious clean up, injuries that may result in liabilities, and embarrassment. Phew!
Easier to Ship
Acrylic is a much better material to ship, as it has a low chance of breaking in transit. Many businesses have learned the hard way that package handlers and delivery workers don’t always obey the “fragile” tag. A glass case that’s broken or shattered on arrival is useless and inconvenient to properly dispose of.
An average quality glass display case is significantly more expensive than a quality acrylic case. This is primarily due to material costs, although shipping costs can make these expenses even more significant. As well, broken glass is far more labor-intensive and expensive to repair than cracked acrylic.
With that being said, beware of deeply discounted glass display cases. These cases are often made from low-quality glass. While the drawbacks of low-quality display cases are difficult to identify online, cheap glass can make the entire case quite fragile while causing visual distortion.
Easier to Repair Scratches
Glass is more scratch-resistant than untreated acrylic, but these scratches are far more difficult to repair. To remove scratches from glass, you need special buffing compounds, mechanical buffers, and a trained laborer – if glass is polished using the wrong materials or by an amateur, it often causes more scratches than it fixes. On the other hand, even though acrylic is prone to small, surface-level scratches, these are easily removed with inexpensive abrasives or a simple, DIY buffing process.
Acrylic vs. Glass Display Cases Comparison Chart
|Display Quality||More optical clarity
Doesn’t obscure view
Easy to move
Difficult to move
|Maintenance||Can be damaged by ammonia and windex cleaners
Can be cleaned with mild dish soap or speciality acrylic cleaning products
Less scratch-resistant, but easier to repair
|Can endure standard household cleaners
More scratch-resistant, but harder to repair
Is Acrylic or Glass Better for Display Cases?
Display cases have a lot of different purposes, ranging from point-of-purchase displays to showcases for memorabilia. While acrylic display cases are often preferred over glass display cases, the best choice will depend on your specific use case. However, for household or consumer-facing use cases, acrylic display cases are almost always the clear winner.
Need display cases for your home, business, or next project? Take a look at our extensive selection of acrylic display cases, or contact us to learn more about custom acrylic cases.