Performance plastics Featured | Lecture : 2 minutes

    Polycarbonate: the world’s most impact-resistant plastic

    Did you know that polycarbonate has a reputation for being unbreakable? Indeed, this lightweight, high-performance and often transparent plastic boasts an impressive resistance to impacts.

    This article will discuss the characteristics, various applications, and limitations of this thermoplastic, also known under the commercial name of LEXAN®. We’ll also examine the differences between polycarbonate and acrylic.

    Characteristics

    With a density of only 1,200 kg/m3, polycarbonate is 250 times more resistant to impacts than glass, which has a mass per volume of about 2,500 kg/m3. What’s more, it’s also about 50% lighter.

    Polycarbonate is 50% lighter than glass while being
    250 times more resistant
    to impacts.

    Applications

    Polycarbonate is mainly used for demanding applications in terms of mechanical constraints. These include safety screens, factory guardrails that reduce the risks of workplace accidents, and bullet-proof glass.

    Limitations

    Although highly resistant to impacts, polycarbonate scratches very easily compared to other materials such as acrylic. It also requires particular care when it comes to cleaning. Moreover, a UV-treated grade of polycarbonate is essential for outdoor use, as this material is also vulnerable to UV rays

    Click here to learn how to clean polycarbonate without any damage.

    “While polycarbonate is perfect for practical applications,
    acrylic is better choice to fulfill aesthetic needs.”
     

    Polycarbonate vs. acrylic

    Although polycarbonate and acrylic look almost identical and are therefore often mistaken for one another, they're two very different plastics. Generally speaking, polycarbonate is a better choice when impact resistance is required, whereas acrylic is a more suitable material for aesthetic and artistic needs, or when superior optical properties are essential.

    To learn more about the differences between polycarbonate and acrylic, please read our article, Polycarbonate versus acrylic.

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