How Are Polycarbonate & Acrylic Different


Category: Polycarbonate, Working with acrylic
 

This week we’re answering a popular question asked of us – how are polycarbonate and acrylic different ?

Strength

Acrylic and Polycarbonate are both half the weight of glass and yet both of these plastics are much stronger than glass.

Acrylic has 17 times the impact resistance of glass. Polycarbonate has 250 times the impact resistance of glass.

Acrylic is very rigid whereas polycarbonate can be bought in flexible grades. Acrylic cracks more easily than polycarbonate under stress.

Light & Clarity

Acrylic also has better clarity than glass, with a light transmittance of 92 percent.

Polycarbonate has a light transmittance of 88 percent.

Acrylic can be polished to restore its clarity, while polycarbonate cannot.

Working with Acrylic & Polycarbonate

Acrylic can be used at temperatures ranging from -30 degrees Fahrenheit to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. It may expand and contract with changes in temperature although it won’t permanently shrink over time.

Polycarbonate can handle temperatures up to 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Polycarbonate is also highly resistant to chemicals such as gasoline and acids.

Cutting

Both acrylic and polycarbonate can be cut with conventional tools such as saws or routers, though acrylic cuts easier than polycarbonate. Polycarbonate fights the initial push of a saw or router at the start of a cut.

Drilling

Acrylic will crack if it is drilled near an edge or with a drill bit not designed for plastic. Polycarbonate typically does not crack when being drilled even if drilled close to the edge with a standard drill bit.

Polishing

The edges of acrylic can be polished smooth if necessary; polycarbonate cannot be polished.

Heat bending

Heat bending works better with acrylic than polycarbonate. Polycarbonate can be cold formed or bent without heating.

Gluing

Gluing with cements designed for acrylic and polycarbonate, acrylic gives a cleaner glue joint than polycarbonate.

Cleaning

Both acrylic and polycarbonate are easy to clean. The best choice for cleaning is a microfibre or 100-percent cotton cloths.

Acrylic has a low chemical resistance and needs more specific cleaners. When cleaning acrylic, it is best to use only mild soap and water or a plastic cleaner

Polycarbonate has a higher chemical resistance than acrylic; it can be cleaned by harsher cleaners containing chemicals such as ammonia.

Neither plastic should be cleaned with solvents.

Durability

Both acrylic and polycarbonate are weather resistant and expand and contract with temperature changes without long-term or permanent shrinkage.

Both acrylic and polycarbonate can scratch, so wool rags and paper towels, which are made from abrasive binding agents, should be avoided.

Acrylic is more likely to chip than polycarbonate because it is less impact-resistant. It does not scratch easily, however, and will not yellow over time.

Polycarbonate has low flammability, while acrylic will burn slowly and is not recommended in areas where flames may be present.

Cost

Polycarbonate is more expensive than acrylic. It tends to cost about 35% more.

 

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