Guide to Plastic Weights

One of the most remarkable features of plastic is just how greatly its features can vary from variety to variety. Acrylic doesn't have as much impact resistance as polycarbonate; polycarbonate's tensile strength is greater than that of PVC; PVC's heat deflection abilities are lesser than Vivak's; and so on, and so on. One of the most basic differences between varieties, however, can be found in how much they weigh. Though that may seem like a simple and not particularly worthwhile distinction, any engineer worth their salt will tell you that weight is of the utmost importance when deciding whether a material is appropriate for a particular project. That value must be known in order to determine the overall weight of said project and whether its other components will be able to support the heft of the plastic component - which is why we've put together this quick and easy guide on the weights of some of our most popular plastics.

Conversions Note

Though some manufacturers use grams per cubic centimeter to indicate the weight of their products, others merely provide the specific gravity of their material. Specific gravity, generally speaking, measures the density of an object as compared to water. Water's weight is one gram per cubic centimeter - a material with, for example, 1.5 specific density would then weigh 1.5 grams per cubic centimeter. For convenience's sake, we have converted the specific gravities provided by the manufacturers of our products to grams per cubic centimeters.

Plastic Weights Cheat Sheet


Material

Density

Vivak PETG

1.27 g/cc

Polycarbonate

1.20 g/cc

Acrylic

1.19 g/cc

ABS

1.03 g/cc

Starboard HDPE

0.955 g/cc

PVC (1 - 6 mm)

0.700 g/cc

PVC (10 - 25 mm)

0.550 g/cc

Acrylic

Acrylic sheet, also known by the brand names of Plexiglas, Lucite, Acryliteand Perspex - is known as an exceptional all-around material that resists yellowing and fading while also providing exceptional abrasion and impact resistance. Weighing in at 1.19 grams per cubic centimeter, this material is heavier than most plastics but is still less than half the weight of most glass (which typically weighs 2.53 grams per cubic centimeter).

Polycarbonate

While polycarbonate (which is also known by the brand names of Makrolon and Lexan) boasts a higher level of impact and heat resistance than acrylic, the material is not quite as capable in terms of protecting itself from abrasion and yellowing from UV rays. Though the two materials are different in many ways, their weight is almost identical - polycarbonate sheet tips the scales at 1.2 grams per cubic centimeter, just .01 more than acrylic. Because the weight difference between acrylic and polycarbonate is sominiscule, engineers and other product creators should feel inclined to put more importance on the other disparities between the two materials when deciding between them.

ABS

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) has become widely used in both the refrigeration and automotive industries thanks to its high impact resistance and ability to remain strong and durable in even the most trying environments. What's more, ABS sheet provides these features while boasting a density even lower than that of acrylic or polycarbonate. Weighing in at a mere 1.03 grams per cubic centimeter, ABS is an excellent choice for those who want a tough material that won't put undue weight on your project or product.

PVC

In recent years, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) has become an increasingly popular choice for signs, exhibits, displays, and any other application in which aesthetics are a priority. This popularity is due in part to its smooth matte finish (which makes it easy to paint or laminate) and also to its exceptional screw and staple retention. Additionally, PVC provides these benefits while standing as one of the lightest plastics available on the market today - though it is unusual in the sense that the density of the material depends on its thickness. Sheets from one to six millimeters measure .70 grams per cubic centimeter, while those ranging from 10 to 25 millimeters weigh in at a feather-light .55 grams per cubic centimeter. You'll be grateful for that lightness when it comes time to hang a sign or display made primarily of this material.

Vivak PETG

Vivak is a brand name for a specific form of polyethylene terephthalate (PETG) created by Bayer. Designed to emulate the features of polycarbonate, Vivak provides exceptional impact and temperature resistance at a superior price. Its ability to be die-cut and punched without shattering makes it a terrific choice for displays or for projects that require oversized, complicated shapes. It's also similar to polycarbonate in terms of density, as its weight of 1.27 grams per cubic centimeter is only slightly higher than that of the popular plastic.

Starboard HDPE

Starboard is a variety of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) created by the King corporation specifically for use in heavily trafficked areas. Its sure-grip, marine-grade construction and resistance to rotting and fading in saltwater and sunlight has made it extremely popular in the creation of all sorts of watercraft. All these features come in a fairly lightweight package, as Starboard HDPE's density of .955 grams per cubic centimeter makes it one of the lightest plastics we offer.

Conclusion

There's a great many factors to consider when deciding which material will best suit the creation of a new product or project. Though weight is but one of those factors, it's an important one to keep in mind and may be what leads you to choose one sort of plastic over the other. If you have any other questions regarding the weights of plastics - or simply wish to know more about the varieties we offer - please feel free to get in touch with one of our friendly and knowledgeable customer service representatives.

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