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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm considering attempting to build a front open vivarium out of acrylic and am unsure where to start. I know that alot of acrylics warp under warmth and moisture but I'm also aware that Lexan and possibly a few others stand up to warpage and other weatehring factors. Does anyone have advice on the kind of acrylic that would be better suited for this task? Any recommended places for acquiring such material? Thanks!

-Bill J.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Kyle,

Yeah, glass is much more economical, but it's also much heavier and harder to work with as far as drilling and beveling. I'm definitely all for build glass vivs, but I just wanted to give acrylic a try.


-Bill J.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I got one of the tanks from Understory and it is so far doing great with no warping and his vent design is amazing.
 

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Kyle,
Do you mean Sean's as in Sean Stewart? I think he got all his stuff made from MD custom caging. They were set up at IAD. Sean and the guy from MD cc worked together to design the cages that have forsale now.

Bill, Are you looking for a display type tank or just rough and tough breeding tanks?

-Richard
 

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I have a double tank from Maryland Custom Caging (which I picked up at IAD) that has worked very well for me. Their tanks are acrylic, though I haven't had any problems with warping (I keep them under compact florescent lights). They are expensive, but if your looking for a nice show tank, I would go for it.

Best Regards,
Aaron Bloch
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I am by no means an expert, but I thought I'd let you know that I used the actual brand name "Lexan" as plexiglass in my vivarium the first time, and it eventualy warped, pulling the silicone seals apart. :roll:
 

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FYI: Lexan is not acrylic, it is polycarbonate. I am also pretty sure most silicone doesn't stick to acrylic very well. A special cement can be used to bond the pieces together, it sort of fuses the pieces together, sort of like model airplane glue.
 

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Bill,

I have been doing a lot of work with this stuff lately (combo refugium/protein skimmer, some cuvets for the lab, and currently a light fixture for some 55watt cp flourescents) and I will share what little I know. Lexan, Lucite, Crystallite, Plexi,... Its all pretty much the same stuff. What you want to build your tank with will be called die cast acrylic (under any of the fore metioned brand names), as the dye cast has the greatest machineablity (I think all the thicker sheet stuff is dye cast anyway). I would go at least 1/4 inch, 3/8 will show much less warpping on large load bearing areas (like the bottom of the tank). The stuff is expensive- localy 1/4 runs about 4.00$ a square foot and almost 10.00$ a square foot for 3/8.

The glues are made by Weld On. There are two types commonly used and you will want both on hand. Weld On #16 is a thickend cement and it works well at filling any small gaps or sealling any mistakes (but it doesn't come out supper pretty). Weld On #4 (I belive thats the one) is a water thin cappilary glue that forms amazingly strong joints, but it requires very precise fits between pecies. However, when done right the piece appears seamless.

I found a table saw blade designed for finsh cuts on thin plywood to be perfect for cutting the stuff (I belive the one I used was made by Skill and cost about 12.00 at HD). Most router bits work well too. And a Dremel with a carbide cutter will be very helpful. If using a jig saw, go slow with the blade moving at about half speed. Otherwise, after finishing the cut you will find the two pecies fused back together.

Wait 24 hours after a glue up before polishing (this is the fun part). To polish it, sand the edges smooth and take a blow torch to it. I found that 1/4 inch was by far the easyist to polish. 3/8 cuaght fie much to easy for my taste. Anyway, play around on some scrap first to get the hang of flame polishing.

One other thing, if you use clamps to hold joints together when glueing with the cappilary glue don't clamp it very tight. If you do the glue want move into the joint at the clamp and you will get an un-fused area.

I hope this helps.
 

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Acrylic Aquarium info

I am not sure if this will help you or not. I am in the process of building a few aquariums and I found this site http://duboisi.com/diy/BNdiytank.htm. It will explain a lot. Where you might want to look is your yellow pages under "Plastic-Molders" "Plastic-Products-Whsle & Mfrs". Basically you tell them either what you want to do and they will help you or you just give them the mesurements and they will cut them (this is the way to go. I would not cut it yourself it is worth the money for them to do it). Now this site is for a Cichlid aquariums but I used it for myself. I am not a expert by any means. So I hope this may have helped you in some sort of way. Good Luck and happy researching!
Andy Wolcott
 

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jhupp,
Lexan may "work" similar in some respects to Acrylic (plexiglass), but it is a different resin, the price difference isn't just because of the brand. I work for an injection molding factory, and we use both resins for different things. Lexan requires almost 100 deg. more and 400-600 psi more to mold than the acrylics. I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that lexan is also bulletproof if you get it thick enough.
When you glue two pieces of acrylic together, does it work better to polish the side that gets the glue before glueing, or does it work better leaving it slightly rough, giving the glue more to grab onto?
 

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The most important thing when glueing acrylic is to make sure both surfaces are extremely smooth and square. You will get weakness in the joints if it is uneven and rough sawn. With a scraper ( razorblade held at 90 to the edge ) you can remove the saw marks. Just make sure that you dont produce a waving uneven surface.

Rob
 

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Sorry about the thing with Lexan. Your right it is different but in the same 'family' and has pretty much the same properties when gluing and cutting (at least as far as I have seen). It is impact resistant, wich makes it bullet proof with thickness. Or so they say.

Don't flame polish surfaces that will get glued. Both myself and the guy at my local plastic shop have noticed that it causes little fractures to apear in the plastic. It is far better to scrape or sand the edge.
 

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To polish the acrylic you can either buy a buffing wheel and compound for a drill or polish it by hand with Novus brand acrylic polish. I agree and would never flame polish acrylic.

rob
 

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You missunderstood me, flame polishing is by far the way to go. Have you tried the buffing wheel? I would think you would start to gum up the edges from the friction (this can even happen from sanding it). I meant don't flame polish the surface that will be glued.
 

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Well I guess working in a professional modelmaking shop did have its advantages. With the appropriate pressure and right compound on a buffing wheel you can get a perfert polish, but if you do apply too much pressure and dont let the compound do the job it will melt.

rob
 

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Any buffing equipment or products that you would recomend? I was thinking about getting a orbital buffer/polisher, would this work well, or would I get just as good results with a drill attachment with a good polishing pad/compound?
I just got some of the weldbond last week, and I really like the results, to anyone thinking about working with acrylic... this stuff rocks :wink:
 
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