Polycarbonate Vs Acrylic: The Definitive Guide for Beginners

In this guide, I’m going to compare both of these products head to head and let you decide which one is perfect for your needs.

Both polycarbonate sheets and acrylic sheets are extremely popular for their wide variety of applications and flexibility. One of the most significant advantages of these plastics is that they offer incredibly higher strength and almost half the weight in nature.

Acrylic sheets are often 17-20 times more substantial and polycarbonate sheets are almost 250 times stronger than glass, which makes them a superior alternative to glass when safety or strength is a concern.

With that intro out of the way, let’s get into some of the major differences between Polycarbonate and Acrylic.

Polycarbonate vs Acrylic: Main Differences

Cost or Price Difference

Acrylic plastic is cheaper than polycarbonate. On average polycarbonate plastics can cost 10%-20% compared to acrylic.

Strength

Polycarbonate plastics are solid material. One of the most robust plastic materials you can use. For highly demanding applications like bullet-proof windows or riot shields, this is a perfect choice.

On the other hand, acrylic sheets are almost 17-20 times stronger than glass, compared to the other; they are easier to break.

Transparency

If you’re looking for higher transparency, you want to go with acrylic plastic.

Although both offer very well transparency compared to glass or other materials, acrylic is the clear winner on this. It’s ideal for any display cases or home aquariums.

Chemical Resistance

No wonder that polycarbonate has a higher level of strength when it comes to chemical resistance. Simply because of how they’re formed, they can be quite resistant to high impact chemicals.

On the other hand, acrylic is quite vulnerable to this master. This is why you should take extra caution when it comes to cleaning these plastics.

Heat Resistant

Polycarbonate is an extremely heat resistant plastic material. This is incredibly helpful for safer use. On the other hand, you can mould and create many shapes with acrylic using heat and press method.

Light Transmission

Another win for acrylic. When it comes to light transmission, acrylic plastic is the one.

Hardness of surface

Acrylic offers better hardness of surface than polycarbonate sheet;

structure

Acrylic is manufactured as a flat sheet, but polycarbonate sheet can be manufactured to the different structures, for example multiwall, solid, corrugated.

The Difference In Working With Both The Products

Now that you know the fundamental differences between the products, let’s see how they differentiate while working with them.

DIY Friendly

Acrylic is the only option for people who love to make their stuff. You can work your way through acrylic even if you’re a newbie. 

They are easier to cut, glue or bend. If you’re a DIY lover and eager to make your crafts, feel free to visit our blog for more information and guides.

Colors

Polycarbonate materials are available on a fair amount of standard colors. Although if you want a more colorful option and like to use unique colors for yourself, acrylic is the one you’re looking for.

Cleaning

As I said earlier, cleaning acrylic needs a lot more caution than polycarbonate. Because while cleaning, you can’t use any harsh chemicals or sprays that contain ammonia in it.

On the other hand, polycarbonate can withstand any washers or cleaners that have a higher amount of chemicals in them.

Cutting the sheets

The process is similar for both kinds of products. However, it’s harder to cut polycarbonate as it’s stronger than acrylic and needs more strength or power.

Drilling

When drilling acrylic plastic, you mustn’t drill near the edges. And ensure that you’re using a drill bit that is specially designed for plastic cutting. 

On the other hand, you don’t need to maintain these while drilling polycarbonate. As you’ve probably guessed this strong plastic can withstand virtually anything.

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Difference in Applications

Polycarbonate Sheet

When you need the most vital kind of materials, you want to go with polycarbonate. For backboards, basketball backboards, riot shield, bubble tent, stadium roofings, plastic chair mat, bullet-proof windows, kayaks, windows in earthquake-prone areas, or in any circumstances where you need a strong material to withstand higher impact.

Acrylic plastic

When you need to create and customize things using plastic, acrylic is the one you’ll need. Because of their light transmission power and higher transparency, a lot of people love to use them in their windows or mirrors. Especially for skylights, acrylic is trendy.

Lexan vs Plexiglass

Lexan is not a name of any material; it’s merely a brand name of polycarbonate plastic. The name was made famous by General Electric when they started popularizing the product in 1960.

Plexiglass is, in the same way, a brand name of acrylic. It’s not a product but a brand name that it gets called very often.

Now it’s your turn

Now it’s time to hear your thoughts. What do you think about both these products?

Or have you got any questions that we can help you with? Feel free to reach us in the chatbox right now!

We love to hear your thoughts and opinion on our guides. Please feel free to share this guide with your friends and colleagues.

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