Acrylic(plexigalss) and polycarbonate(lexan) plastics are oftentimes compared to one another because they are similar in appearance and the most frequently utilized see-through plastic materials on the market. They have lots of similarities and differences. Generally speaking, acrylic product is shinier and polycarbonate product is stronger. they both weigh less than half of glass and they are both much stronger than glass. In this blog you will see the difference between Acrylic and Polycarbonate from different aspects.
Acrylic VS Polycarbonate - Typical Physical Properties
|Heat deflection temperature||°F||D648||195||280|
|Maximum continuous service temperature in air||°F||160||240|
|Tensile modulus of elasticity||psi||D638||400,000||345,000|
|Flexural modulus of elasticity||psi||D790||480,000||345,000|
|Izod impact||ft-lbs/in||D256||0.4||12.0 - 16.0|
|Coefficient of linear thermal expansion||in/in/°Fx10-5||D696||4||3.8|
|Water absorption (immersion 24 hours)||%||D570||0.2||0.15|
|shrinkage rate||%||0.2% to 0.5%||0.5 to 0.7%|
Acrylic VS Polycarbonate - General characteristics
|Strength||17 times impact resistance of glass||250 times impact resistance of glass|
|Clarity||92% light transmittance – Better clarity than glass||88% light transmittance|
|Chemical Resistance||Low – should only be cleaned with plastic cleaners||Higher than acrylic- can be cleaned with products containing ammonia. Resistant to gasoline and acids.|
|Cost||Less expensive than Polycarbonate||More expensive material – cost difference can range based on thickness|
|Requires heat to shape||yes||no|
|Weight||less than half of glass||less than half of glass|
|Cleaning||easy to clean||easy to clean|
Acrylic VS Polycarbonate - Machinability
|Machinability||Easier to machine than polycarbonate||Easy to machine|
|Cutting||Can be cut with conventional tools – Easier to cut, but there is a higher risk of cracking material.||Can be cut with conventional tools – Fights the initial push of a saw or router|
|thermoforming||Easy to thermoform||Easy to thermoform|
|Drilling||Will crack if it is near the edge. Need a plastic specific drill bit.||Typically, does not crack when drilling near the edge. Can use regular drill bits.|
|Bonding||Cleaner glue joint than Polycarbonate||Can be glued, but the joint will not be as clean as acrylic|
|Bending||Heat bending||Cold bending/ cold forming|
|Polishing||Can be polished||Cannot be polished, only buffed|
|Cut, drill with standard tools||yes||not recommended|
Acrylic VS Polycarbonate- Applications
|Application||Acrylic||Polycarbonate||Why to choose|
|Indoor signs||✔||Acrylic has low cost|
|outdoor signs||✔||Acrylic has better Durability|
|Furniture||✔||Acrylic has better Clarity|
|Shelves and retail fixtures||✔||Acrylic has better Clarity|
|Brochure holders||✔||Acrylic has better Clarity|
|Machine guards||✔||Polycarbonate has better impact resistance|
|Face shields||✔||Polycarbonate has better impact resistance|
|Riot shields||✔||Polycarbonate has better impact resistance|
|Headlamp lens||✔||Polycarbonate has higher thermal resistance|
How to Choose between Acrylic and Polycarbonate
There are several key factors to consider when evaluating polycarbonate vs acrylic for your commercial project. Here are 6 factors to be considered during design.
polycarbonate is stronger than acrylic. Less rigid and able to withstand temperature changes without breaking, compared to traditional glass, polycarbonate sheets are up to 250x stronger, while acrylic is only 17x. if your product requires a Higher strength, polycarbonate will be your choice.
To the naked eye, polycarbonate and acrylic both appear to boast the same clarity for glass alternatives for windows. However, Acrylic has a better Light transmittance than polycarbonate, if your product requires a strict optic requirement, high light intensity, then Acrylic will be a better choice for your project.
Surface damage resistance
Considering the environment of your product goanna to be used, if your product is easy to touch other objects which may cause scratches on your product, then Acrylic will be your choice due to its better Scratch resistance performance than polycarbonate. Polycarbonate products are more likely to fall victim to scratches that can’t be buffed out. On the other hand, acrylics are more adaptable to chips or even cracks when subjected to strong impacts. But anyway, if you still want to use polycarbonate, then hard coating on polycarbonate will be Alternative solution.
Durability against the elements
For indoor use, both materials stand up to whatever their intended uses are. you can choose both of them
For outdoor use, acrylic fares better against exposure to the sun. Because of acrylic’s chemical composition, it’s resistant to UV rays and doesn’t warp or discolor as easily. Polycarbonate, however, need additional protection from the sun’s rays -- usually, a thin layer of a UV ray-resistant coating is applied to both sides of the material or they’ll yellow after prolonged exposure to the sun.
Take sheet as example, polycarbonate sheets are easier to work with than acrylic sheets -- but not in the sense you might think.
Because polycarbonate sheets are stronger, they are better suited for fabrication than acrylics. Whether cut, drilled, or shaped, polycarbonate is less likely to break, though it does take more effort and skill to fabricate. Acrylic is comparative weakness, however, does make the material easier to form. In simplest terms, acrylic sheets won’t lose integrity or strength after being heated and molded into a shape. So you need to choose the material according to your machining process method.
Because of its strength, durability, and extra effort required during fabrication, polycarbonate costs more. Those factors contribute to its higher cost. Acrylic is more prone to breaking. It’s a cheaper alternative to glass that is easier on your budget to use.
After you read above-mentioned comparison, you would be able to make a decision between the two materials for applications across varied sectors now.. KUSLA has a rich experience with these two materials and provide Acrylic and Polycarbonate sheets, rods, tubes and different machining service for you. we could help you make the right choice between Acrylic and polycarbonate after evaluating your product needs.