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What Is Polycarbonate?

What is Polycarbonate? Polycarbonate is one of the most popular plastic sheet materials available today — and for good reason! It’s an incredibly strong substance that offers a ton of benefits for companies and users in a wide array of industries. 

However, if you’re new to the world of plastics, you may not be exactly sure why polycarbonate, which is commonly sold under the LEXAN name, is such a force in the industry. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “what is polycarbonate?” here’s a quick guide to help you learn the composition, benefits, and attributes of LEXAN polycarbonate so you can maximize your plastic purchasing decisions. 

SFS-692 SFS-2871 Lexan Sheet

What Is Polycarbonate?

Polycarbonate is a type of thermoplastic polymer that contains carbonate groups within its chemical makeup. This makes the material incredibly versatile. Though it comes in many forms, it is often used to create clear sheets of strong, tough plastic. It comes in various grades; some are transparent, while others have a bit of a tint. Since it’s a thermoplastic, it can also be easily molded into various shapes and forms when exposed to heat. 

You likely come across polycarbonate quite a bit in your regular routine without even realizing it. The material looks and presents a lot like glass when used in its sheet form. However, it has plenty of attributes that make it even stronger and more versatile than glass in certain instances. 

Attributes of Polycarbonate

The attribute that makes LEXAN polycarbonate stand out from so many other plastic materials on the market is its outstanding impact resistance. In its sheet form, LEXAN polycarbonate can be hundreds of times more impact resistant than glass. And it’s significantly more impact resistant than other strong plastics like acrylic as well. Since LEXAN polycarbonate sheets are available in a wide array of grades and thicknesses, the exact amount of strength varies. But in any form, it is one of the most unbreakable sheets you can find on the market today. 

Basically, this means the sheets are much more difficult to crack or break than actual glass or pretty much any similar material available in a clear sheet form. Even on the off chance that LEXAN polycarbonate does break when struck with a large projectile or other object, the material will not shatter into dangerous pieces like glass. This improves safety and security at a variety of facilities. 

Visually, LEXAN polycarbonate sheets are sold in a mostly clear form. The material may have a bit of a tint, depending on what grade is used. But it generally offers good visual clarity. This makes it usable in applications where it’s important for individuals to be able to see through to the other side. 

Applications of Polycarbonate

LEXAN Polycarbonate can apply to a huge array of industries, from aerospace and armored vehicles to construction and security glass. Basically, any application that may benefit from a material that can stand up against extreme impact is likely to make use of polycarbonate in some way. Here’s a more specific rundown of a few of the material’s most common uses. 

LEXAN polycarbonate is one of the most popular materials in the security glass industry. Since it can stand up to impact from projectiles and even some ballistics, it is commonly used to fabricate windows, doors, entryways, and protective countertop systems at facilities like banks, convenience stores, and government buildings. 

It is also quite common in the transportation industry. The material is able to withstand impact from flying debris, making it ideal for use in windshields and auto glass in everything from recreational vehicles to golf carts. It can even be used in military and armored vehicle applications when sheets with large gauges are selected. 

LEXAN polycarbonate can even be useful in industrial settings like manufacturing centers and factories. The machinery used in many of these facilities is heavy, sharp, and fast moving, which means that it could potentially cause damage to the surrounding structures or injure workers if they’re left unprotected. Machine guards are designed to protect the people operating this machinery and the other items around it. LEXAN polycarbonate is able to withstand these potential hazards without cracking or shattering. Additionally, the material is clear enough for machinery operators to clearly see controls and other essential elements of the machines while completing their duties on site. 

LEXAN polycarbonate can even be used for signage and displays. It provides transparency when needed to show off products behind a protective exterior. But tint and color can also be added when necessary to display brand names and marketing messages. And since the material is so strong and durable, it’s perfect for standing up against the elements, so it can easily be used in both indoor and outdoor applications. 

Now that we’ve answered the question, “what is polycarbonate?” it’s time to reap the benefits of this quality material. Polymershapes makes it easy to order a wide array of polycarbonate sheets and other plastic products. We offer sheets in an array of different sizes, grades, and dimensions, and you can even customize sheets to suit the specific needs of each project. Our products come from top manufacturers like LEXAN, and our facilities are outfitted with industry leading fabrication and conversion equipment. We also have key distribution sites spread throughout the country to ensure fast shipping and personalized service. In addition to polycarbonate sheets, we also provide a wide array of other plastic products including acrylic, corrugated twinwall, ABS, HDPE, and many others. If you’re ready to reap the benefits of polycarbonate or any of these other plastics, visit our website and reach out to your local Polymershapes branch today.