The Tensile Strength of Polycarbonate Sheeting

Polycarbonate sheeting is known throughout the world of architecture and construction as one of the strongest and most flexible materials on the market today. This is thanks in part to its outstanding impact resistance (250 times greater than that of glass) and its ability to resist temperatures of up to 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Lost in all these features, however, is the fact that polycarbonate sheeting also boasts tremendous tensile strength; more than double that of glass in most cases. But what is tensile strength, and why is it important in a material?

Tensile Strength Basics

Tensile strength, simply put, is a measurement of a material's ability to resist breaking under tension. It dictates how well a material can handle being pulled apart or otherwise stressed and is typically derived from either a ASTM D638 or ISO 527 test. Though there are minor differences between the tests, both operate on the same basic principle of both ends of a material sample being secured by specially-designed clamps and pulled apart until the material breaks. This illustration may give you a better idea of how the test looks and of the equipment involved. From this, testers can not only derive the tensile strength of said material but also the strain, the tensile modulus, the yield point, the break point, and Poisson's ratio.

Though these elements are all of importance, tensile strength is often used as the basic determiner of a material's ability to hold up under stress. Depending on the test, tensile strength can be measured in psi, or pounds per square inch (for ASTM tests), or in MPa, or Megapascals (for ISO tests). One MPa is equal to 145.038 psi; to get a better sense of what the readings mean, check out this chart and its collection of pressure readings for everyday environments and occurrences.


It's also important to note that both tests measure tensile strength in two ways; ultimate tensile strength and yield tensile strength. The former marks the amount of pressure that a material must undergo before it breaks, while the latter dictates the pressure it can withstand before suffering permanent deformation. It's essential for manufacturers to be aware of these numbers when choosing materials, especially when it comes to construction projects. Imagine how disastrous it would be if it was discovered halfway through the creation of a building that a selected material couldn't handle the pressure of the weight piled on top of it.    

Polycarbonate Tensile Strength

Now that you know the basics of tensile strength, you're likely curious as to just how well polycarbonate sheet performs in that area. Though all varieties of polycarbonate exhibit exceptional tensile strength, the actual numbers vary somewhat from product to product.


Our clear SL polycarbonate sheets provide the transparency of glass in concert with superior impact resistance and tensile strength. Its ultimate tensile strength of 9500 psi and yield tensile strength of 9000 psi means that it would be able to withstand the pressure of being approximately 20,000 feet underwater before suffering permanent deformation or breakage.


Trupoly is an alternative for those in need of clear polycarbonate sheeting, a product that offers exceptional protection for machine guards, freight doors, or any other environment where you need both transparency and durability. Trupoly is also somewhat unusual in that its yield tensile strength (9400 psi) is greater than its ultimate tensile strength (8800 psi), meaning that a sheet made from this material will break before it suffers permanent deformation.


UV2 polycarbonate is similar to SL and Trupoly in the sense that it's mainly used for clear sheeting. It's unlike those two, however, in the sense that its tensile strength is measured by MPa instead of psi. Its ultimate tensile strength of 70 MPa (10152.6 psi) is the greatest of any of our polycarbonates, and its yield tensile strength of 63 MPa (9137.38 psi) lags only behind that of the Trupoly.


The ability of LD polycarbonate to diffuse light while maintaining exceptional light transmission - along with the fact that it can be custom created in any color - has made it an incredibly popular choice for manufacturers who value both aesthetics and durability. That durability is evidenced most clearly by a remarkable tensile strength that mirrors that of SL polycarbonate (9500 psi ultimate, 9000 psi yield).


Those pursuing glazing and industrial applications will find a lot to like about our polycarbonate GP. Its polished surface and tremendous strength makes it an exceptional choice for any environment where breakage or vandalism is a concern. As with the SL and LD, its 9500 psi ultimate tensile strength and its 9000 psi yield tensile strength means that otherworldly pressure must be applied before the sheet even thinks about breaking.


There's a great deal that manufacturers must consider when choosing materials for their project or product. Though aesthetics, affordability and flexibility are all chief concerns, none are as essential as the durability of the chosen material. Tensile strength plays a huge role in durability, and we at A&C Plastics are proud to say that the tensile strength of our polycarbonate sheeting rivals or surpasses that of any on the market today. If you'd like to know more about tensile strength - or about how our clients have made exceptional use of the durability of our products - please feel free to get in touch with one of our helpful plastics experts.