Why does cast acrylic cost more than extruded?
That is a loaded question. Cast doesn’t always cost more than extruded. If the acrylic is imported from overseas, it may in fact cost less than extruded acrylic. The answer has to do with the cost of American labor vs. foreign labor, and the comparison of that to automation.
Extruded Acrylic is run on automated machinery with a minimum of human contact, and very little manual labor or handling of individual sheets. Cell casting involves assembling and disassembling individual molds for each sheet of acrylic to be made. Time is consumed in curing tanks and ovens, which does not allow for additional material to be made while the current batch is curing. Therefore the quantity of materials which are capable of being made in a 24-hour period are vastly different when comparing the two processes.
Additionally, American laborers are paid more per hour, receive benefits, and employers pay for things like workmen’s compensation, social security, unemployment insurance, liability insurance, proper waste disposal, etc., which in foreign countries are not all factors to be considered. So while cast sheets from domestic sources always costs more than domestic extruded, cast sheets from foreign sources are competitive with and sometimes less than domestic extruded sheets.