What is Polycarbonate?

You’ve probably used a product with polycarbonate in it today, even if you don’t realize it. After all, polycarbonate is just about everywhere; it’s used in eyeglasses, medical devices, auto parts, lighting fixtures, DVDs and Blu-Rays, to name a few. As a naturally transparent amorphous thermoplastic, polycarbonate’s usefulness is in its ability to internally transmit light almost as effectively as glass and to withstand impacts far greater than many other commonly used plastics. Furthermore, the pliability of the material allows it to be created at room temperature without cracking or breaking and to be reformed even without the application of heat. That’s the “amorphous” element. The “thermoplastic” part refers to the nature of polycarbonate and other similar plastics to become liquid at their melting point, which allows, among other things, for easy injection molding and recycling.

Applications of Polycarbonate

Though polycarbonate sheet is prized for its strength and flexibility, its transparency is what allows it take on a variety of applications that similar materials cannot. As mentioned, the usage of polycarbonate plastic is very popular in the creation of eyewear; that’s because it’s lighter than glass and possesses a natural UV filter. Listed below are a few more specific applications that display the capabilities of this extremely versatile material.

  • Molds for urethane and silicone casting
  • 3D printed models for high heat applications
  • Machinery guards
  • LED light pipes and diffusers
  • Vehicle headlights
  • Small vehicle windshields
  • Bullet-resistant “glass”
  • Phone and computer cases
  • Fountain pens
  • Luggage

What’s more, polycarbonate is as popular in prototypes as it is in finished products. Its durability and transparency make it a perfect stand-in for glass during research and testing.

Types of Polycarbonate

Though polycarbonate sheeting was initially and concurrently developed in the mid-20th century by GE and Bayer, the current plastics marketplace features a variety of developers who each possess a unique polycarbonate formula and production process. Here are a few details on some of the modern variations and their common uses.

MAKROLON Clear GP Sheet

Designed for glazing and industrial uses, the Clear GP stands alone as the best polycarbonate on the market for protection against vandalism and intentional breakage. This high-impact sheet boasts an impact strength 250 times that of glass and 30 times that of acrylic sheeting, meaning that whatever it’s protecting is going to stay protected. Backed by a five-year warranty against breakage, Clear GP polycarbonate stands head and shoulders above any product in its class.

MAKROLON Clear SL Sheet

Natural light can eventually erode even the sturdiest materials, but that erosion can be slowed dramatically through the protection offered by the enhanced UV resistance of the Clear SL. This material is designed to weather brutal environments and provide unmatched extension of service life and color-shifting resistance. The MAKROLON Clear SL2 provides the same protection on both sides of the sheet for all-around UV resistance.

Polycarbonate Mirror Sheet

This versatile product offers the mirroring of glass with superior impact strength, heat resistance, and both dimensional and UV stability. Ideal for the security and automotive industries, this polycarbonate is the basis for what is commonly referred to as a two-way mirror. It can also be used to create traditional mirrors in high-stress environments, such as in vehicles, retail displays, and institutional bathrooms.

The flexibility of polycarbonate allows for each of these products to be created in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and transparencies. All of them provide unmatched strength, functionality and cost-effectiveness. Follow this link to learn more about the numerous forms of polycarbonate and about the wholesale options available to those who wish to buy this remarkable material in bulk.

Additional Benefits of Polycarbonate

Its durability, transparency, weatherability, and flexibility are but a few of the features that have made polycarbonate a mainstay material across multiple industries. Polycarbonate is also considerably less toxic than many other plastics, and the ease with which it can be recycled only adds to its environmental friendliness. Furthermore, its considerable heat resistance can be enhanced with a variety of flame retardants without significantly lowering any of its other properties.  

No other plastic on the market does as much as well as polycarbonate. Please contact one of our trained plastic experts if you would like to learn more about how one of our quality polycarbonate products can be of use to you and your business.

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