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What Is an Acrylic Tray?

By B. Turner
Updated May 16, 2024
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An acrylic tray is a shallow storage device found in homes, stores, and restaurants. These trays may appear as though they are made from glass, but they actually are made of a shatter-resistant plastic. This plastic is made from heavy-duty acrylic resins, and is similar to the protective walls used to shield spectators at hockey arenas. Manufacturers produce many sizes and styles of acrylic tray designs, ranging from small storage units to large serving trays.

Acrylic is generally considered the perfect material for these trays. It allows users to enjoy a clear, glass-like tray with very little risk of breakage. This material is made from a methyl methacrylate polymer, which is a form of composite resin made in laboratories. It may also be referred to as Plexiglass® or Lucite® after some popular brand-name versions of this material.

In the home, an acrylic tray may be used to hold jewelry, cosmetics, or other small items. These trays often come in varying sizes that can be stacked inside of one another to create unique configurations. Larger units may be used to hold rolled-up hand towels or soaps on a bathroom sink. Others may rely on an acrylic tray to store and organize office supplies like rubber bands and paper clips in a desk drawer.

The acrylic tray also serves as a popular alternative to metal serving trays in both homes and restaurants. These trays may feature built-in handles, or may simply have rounded or squared edges. Some are completely flat, while others have a lip built in to the edge so materials can't roll off. Many people personalize acrylic trays with paint or etchings. The monogrammed acrylic tray is particularly common, and serves as a popular gift for weddings or other events.

One of the primary advantages of the acrylic tray is that it is many times stronger than glass, but still offers a clear finish. This glass-like appearance makes the tray fairly unobstrusive, and allows other materials and finishes to shine through. For example, an acrylic tray placed on a granite countertop allows users to still see the natural beauty of the granite, but also helps to keep items organized. Like all acrylic objects, these trays are also completely waterproof and thus very easy to clean. They can also protect surrounding surfaces by helping to contain food and beverage spills.

One drawback to acrylic is its tendency to scratch quite easily. These scratches can mar the surface, and are virtually impossible to remove. Some forms of acrylic may also yellow over time, which detracts from the appearance of the tray.

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