Glass or Acrylic or Polycarbonate:
A Quick Guide on how to Select the Right Material for Your Application
Glass has been the obvious traditional choice when a clear material is needed. Glass is optically clear and, as we all know, it’s great in many applications. The exception to that is when it comes to safety and weight considerations. In these cases Acrylic often becomes the material of choice. Like glass it has excellent clarity and, with coatings, it can have scratch resistance. It is also available in colors of all kinds.
Is Safety a Concern?
When safety is the primary concern polycarbonate is the logical choice. Polycarbonate has come a long way over the years. It comes in many colors. It is similar in clarity to Acrylic but it has the added safety and security of additional impact performance.
Coated or Uncoated Polycarbonate – There Is a Difference!
In order to get the impact performance that polycarbonate offers, something has to give; polycarbonate is softer than acrylic so it can scratch. However, you can get polycarbonate material with a coating that is water clear and will extend the life of the product by increasing the hardness of the surface. This is great for applications from machine guards to windscreens, to touch screens. Consider coated polycarbonate material for added protection. If scratching isn’t an issue the uncoated polycarbonate can typically save you a little bit of cost.
So, as you can see, selection of clear materials is often a progression of going from glass to acrylic to polycarbonate based on the needs of your project.
ThyssenKrupp Materials, NA
AIN Plastics Division
Sales & Market Manager
Bayer Market Development