How To Build A Protective Barrier With ACRYLITE® Alltop Multi-Skin
ACRYLITE® Alltop is a highly transparent, lightweight and strong material. These properties make it a good choice for protective barriers. ACRYLITE® Alltop is typically mounted in aluminum extrusions. The extrusions support the weight of the sheet, allow for expansion and close the open channels within the sheet. Follow this how-to guide to make an aluminum extrusion frame suitable for medical offices and hospitals.
WHAT YOU NEED
• 16 mm ACRYLITE® Alltop Panel, 36” Tall (47 ¼” Factory Width)
• 1/8” Wall, 2” High x 1” Wide Architectural 6063 U-Channel
• 1/8” Wall, 2” x 2” Architectural 6063 Angle
• Aluminum Blind Rivets, 1/8” Diameter for 0.188” – 0.25” Thickness
• 8-32 x 3/8” Pan Head Machine Screws
• Table Saw or Miter Saw with Aluminum Blade
• Center Punch
• Cordless Drill and/or Drill Press
• Deburring Tool
• Pop Rivet Gun
• Aluminum File
• Quick Clamps
• #30 Drill for Pop Rivets
• #8-32 Speed Tap
• 3/16” Drill for Clearance Holes
• Scotch-Brite Pads or Wheels (on a Die Grinder)
This barrier is framed with 6063 architectural aluminum U-channel. The U-channel is 1” wide with 1/8” thick walls, providing a ¾” slot for the 5/8” thick ACRYLITE® Alltop. The 1/8” clearance allows the Alltop to slide easily into the completed frame. The U-channel for this project has 2” tall flanges. 1” and 1 ½” tall U-channels are readily available if a lighter frame is desired.
This project uses unfinished aluminum. Unfinished aluminum is low cost, but has an uneven surface finish. The polished swirl is created with a Scotch-Brite disc on a die grinder. Alternatively, unfinished aluminum can be primed then top coated with a color. Anodized aluminum is also available for a slightly higher cost. It provides a smoother, more finished look ready for a color topcoat.
The corners of the U-channel frame are held together by brackets made with 1/8” x 2” x 2” aluminum angle. The brackets are fastened with pop rivets, except for the top, which is fastened with screws. The screws allow the ACRYLITE® Alltop to be replaced if damaged.
STEP 1. Order Acrylic
Order ACRYLITE® Alltop cut to length on www.acrylite.co. This panel is 36” long. If a panel must be cut, use a handheld circular saw with an acrylic cutting blade. Get an acrylic blade from a reputable supplier such as Forrest, Freud, or Amana. Support the sheet under both sides of the cut. Lay a straight guide board on top of the sheet and clamp the board to the bottom support. The cut quality improves when the sheet cannot vibrate. Cut smoothly and quickly to avoid melting. Blow cutting debris out of the channels with compressed air.
STEP 2. Make Corner Brackets
Use a table saw or miter saw with an aluminum cutting blade. Freud makes a special blade for aluminum profiles. Cut the 2” x 2” angle into 4 brackets, each 1” long. Use a file or a Scotch-Brite disc on a die grinder to smooth the edges. Using a center punch, mark each bracket for 4 holes, ½” from each corner. Drill with a #30 drill bit, which provides the correct diameter for the pop rivet. Deburr the holes, leaving a slight chamfer.
STEP 3. Cut U-Channel Frame
Cut the bottom and top U-channels 48 ¾” long, with a 45° miter at each end. Cut the left and right U-channels 36 3/8” long with matching miters. These dimensions allow a 47 ¼” x 36” panel to fit within the frame with room for expansion. Use a file or Scotch-Brite disc to remove sharp burs, but do not round the cuts. Test fit the channels around the Alltop panel.
STEP 4. Connect Bottom Corners
Connect each bracket to one U-channel at a time. Clamp the assembly, taking care to align the U-channels at a right angle. Using the bracket as a guide, drill through the U-channel with a #30 drill bit. Deburr the holes, then re-clamp the corner. Pop rivet the bracket to the first U-channel. Drill through the bracket to the second U-channel. Unclamp, deburr, and pop rivet the second U-channel.
STEP 5. Connect Top Corners
If desired, the entire frame may be riveted. This provides maximum security. The rivets can be drilled out should the panel need replacement. For this project, the top U-channel is removable, allowing the panel to slide out. #8-32 machine screws hold the top U-channel to the side channels. Instead of drilling for a pop rivet, use a #8-32 speed tap. Then drill out the bracket with a 3/16” bit to provide clearance for the screw. Slide in the Alltop panel and secure the top U-channel with the #8-32 machine screws.
We hope you enjoyed our guide.