Among the many aspects of life impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, acrylic glass may not be the first to come to mind.
However, for the makers of this transparent sheet product, COVID-19 has been a game-changer. Orders skyrocketed when the World Health Organization labeled the outbreak a pandemic and recommended using glass or plastic barriers to reduce exposure and have continued unabated since.
With demand outstripping supply and no end to the outbreak yet in sight, prices are rising and manufacturers are struggling to boost production to previously unthinkable levels.
Yet, not all acrylic glass, often casually called plexiglass, is created equal, as Röhm GmbH, the manufacturer of the original Plexiglas acrylic glass for the European market, is now taking pains to point out. In North America and South America, Arkema Inc. produces the trademarked sheet.
Röhm is launching an extensive brand campaign, designed to dispel any confusion that might exist among users.
"We are once again making it unmistakably clear that there is only one original Plexiglas, namely Röhm's brand-name acrylic," emphasized Falk Majert, head of the Acrylic Products business unit at Röhm.
That's right: It's PLEXIGLAS, not plexiglass. With only one "s." It's a registered brand, not a generic name, and that brand is owned by Röhm and Arkema. Against my own editing rules and principles, I'm going to use the original spelling — all capitals — for this paragraph to demonstrate the point.
The company's efforts are impressive: A video and a specially developed internet landing page have been created to "sharpen the Plexiglas brand identity with an attractive touch."
Regular posts in social media channels such as LinkedIn will accompany and support the brand protection campaign.
As Röhm and Arkema point out, almost everyone has heard the name, but not everyone knows that there is only one original Plexiglas sheet. And while the sheer ubiquity of the term plexiglass may be construed as a compliment, the company would prefer the use of the correct name.
For the person sitting behind the sneeze guard, the difference may be notional. However, the protection offered by that guard, whatever the glass used, is not. Surely we can at least get the name right.
Laird is editor of Sustainable Plastics, a sister publication to Plastics News. Follow SP on Twitter @SustainPlastics.