Characterization and long-term stability of historical PMMA: Impact of additives and acrylic sheet industrial production processes

Sara Babo, Joana Lia Ferreira, Ana Maria Ramos, Anna Micheluz, Marisa Pamplona, Maria Helena Casimiro, Luís Mota Ferreira, Maria João Melo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


This work aims at understanding the influence of the production processes and materials in the properties and long term behavior of acrylic sheet, i.e., poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), a material generally considered very stable in museum collections. A comparative study was conducted in samples from cast acrylic sheets produced in the early 2000s, from which manufacturing details were known, and samples provided by the artist Lourdes Castro from acrylic sheets she had bought in the 1960s. Transparent and red opaque cast acrylic samples, containing cadmium red pigment, were used. All samples were artificially aged in a solarbox with irradiation Λ > 300 nm for a total period of 8000 h, and alterations were followed by a multi-analytical approach which included Raman, infrared (FTIR-ATR) and UV-Vis spectroscopies; gravimetry; size exclusion chromatography (SEC); thermogravimetry (TGA); micro-indentation; colorimetry; and optical microscopy. Not all cast PMMA sheets presented similar stabilities. We have concluded that the production processes (which may include the polymerization conditions, the organic additives and the origin of the monomer) play a more important role in the properties and long-term behavior of these acrylic sheets than the presence of cadmium red and/or the age of the material.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3662
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Accelerated aging
  • Additives
  • Cadmium red
  • Conservation
  • Photodegradation
  • PMMA
  • Poly(methyl methacrylate)
  • Production processes


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