Polycarbonate

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Polycarbonate (PC) is a tough, impact-resistant, virtually unbreakable material that can be used in many applications. People often use Lexan and Polycarbonate interchangeably. There is absolutely no difference between both of them. The most popular brand of Polycarbonate is Lexan™, but at ShapesPlastics, we sell a variety of polycarbonate sheets from well-known brand names. We sell many different material types of Polycarbonate sheets like Clear General Purpose, Abrasion Resistant, UV-Resistant, Twinwall, and solid sheet colors such as Bronze or Gray. 

You can explore our product catalog, by using the filters on the left-hand side, the quick quote calculator, and the global search bar at the top of every page. Please see a detailed guide here.

Polycarbonate (PC) is a tough, impact-resistant, virtually unbreakable material that can be used in many applications. This sheet is considered a high-performance material due to its excellent balance of engineering properties, including excellent impact strength, and electrical properties. It offers great dimensional stability and a broad operating temperature range. We offer many commonly recognized polycarbonate brands. We sell a variety of Polycarbonate types like Clear General Purpose, Abrasion Resistant, UV-Resistant, Twinwall, and solid sheet colors such as Bronze or Gray.

Polycarbonate

Virtually Unbreakable Material

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  1. 1/4" Clear Abrasion Resistant Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    1/4" Clear Abrasion Resistant Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    From $21.21 $0.00 per sq. ft.

    For items priced 'From $ Per Square Foot', the price refers to the material.  Your final price includes material, plus cutting & handling charges that vary based on your entered dimensions.  Sheet sizes requiring a pallet (not handled by a standard FedEx/UPS courier van) will incur shipping charges during checkout.

  2. 3/16" Clear Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    3/16" Clear Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    From $6.92 $0.00 per sq. ft.

    For items priced 'From $ Per Square Foot', the price refers to the material.  Your final price includes material, plus cutting & handling charges that vary based on your entered dimensions.  Sheet sizes requiring a pallet (not handled by a standard FedEx/UPS courier van) will incur shipping charges during checkout.

  3. 1/8" Bronze Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    3/16" Bronze Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    From $11.04 $0.00 per sq. ft.

    For items priced 'From $ Per Square Foot', the price refers to the material.  Your final price includes material, plus cutting & handling charges that vary based on your entered dimensions.  Sheet sizes requiring a pallet (not handled by a standard FedEx/UPS courier van) will incur shipping charges during checkout.

  4. 1/8" Clear Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    1/8" Clear Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    From $4.61 $0.00 per sq. ft.

    For items priced 'From $ Per Square Foot', the price refers to the material.  Your final price includes material, plus cutting & handling charges that vary based on your entered dimensions.  Sheet sizes requiring a pallet (not handled by a standard FedEx/UPS courier van) will incur shipping charges during checkout.

  5. 3/16" Grey Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    3/16" Grey Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    From $8.43 $0.00 per sq. ft.

    For items priced 'From $ Per Square Foot', the price refers to the material.  Your final price includes material, plus cutting & handling charges that vary based on your entered dimensions.  Sheet sizes requiring a pallet (not handled by a standard FedEx/UPS courier van) will incur shipping charges during checkout.

  6. 1/16" Clear Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    1/16" Clear Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    From $1.75 $0.00 per sq. ft.

    For items priced 'From $ Per Square Foot', the price refers to the material.  Your final price includes material, plus cutting & handling charges that vary based on your entered dimensions.  Sheet sizes requiring a pallet (not handled by a standard FedEx/UPS courier van) will incur shipping charges during checkout.

  7. 1/4" Grey Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    1/8" Grey Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    From $11.09 $0.00 per sq. ft.

    For items priced 'From $ Per Square Foot', the price refers to the material.  Your final price includes material, plus cutting & handling charges that vary based on your entered dimensions.  Sheet sizes requiring a pallet (not handled by a standard FedEx/UPS courier van) will incur shipping charges during checkout.

  8. 1/4" UV Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    1/4" UV Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    From $12.30 $0.00 per sq. ft.

    For items priced 'From $ Per Square Foot', the price refers to the material.  Your final price includes material, plus cutting & handling charges that vary based on your entered dimensions.  Sheet sizes requiring a pallet (not handled by a standard FedEx/UPS courier van) will incur shipping charges during checkout.

  9. 0.03" Clear Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    0.03" Clear Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    From $0.93 $0.00 per sq. ft.

    For items priced 'From $ Per Square Foot', the price refers to the material.  Your final price includes material, plus cutting & handling charges that vary based on your entered dimensions.  Sheet sizes requiring a pallet (not handled by a standard FedEx/UPS courier van) will incur shipping charges during checkout.

  10. 1/2" Clear Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    1/2" Clear Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    From $20.40 $0.00 per sq. ft.

    For items priced 'From $ Per Square Foot', the price refers to the material.  Your final price includes material, plus cutting & handling charges that vary based on your entered dimensions.  Sheet sizes requiring a pallet (not handled by a standard FedEx/UPS courier van) will incur shipping charges during checkout.

  11. 1/4" Grey Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    1/4" Grey Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    From $17.46 $0.00 per sq. ft.

    For items priced 'From $ Per Square Foot', the price refers to the material.  Your final price includes material, plus cutting & handling charges that vary based on your entered dimensions.  Sheet sizes requiring a pallet (not handled by a standard FedEx/UPS courier van) will incur shipping charges during checkout.

  12. 1/8" Bronze Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    1/8" Bronze Polycarbonate Cut-to-Size
    From $6.87 $0.00 per sq. ft.

    For items priced 'From $ Per Square Foot', the price refers to the material.  Your final price includes material, plus cutting & handling charges that vary based on your entered dimensions.  Sheet sizes requiring a pallet (not handled by a standard FedEx/UPS courier van) will incur shipping charges during checkout.

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Polycarbonate (PC)

Polycarbonate is a super durable and high-impact plastic with properties that allow it to hold up longer to extreme temperatures. Popular types of Polycarbonate are General Purpose Polycarbonate, UV Polycarbonate, Abrasion Resistant Polycarbonate, Twinwall/Multiwall Polycarbonate, and colored Polycarbonate. Polycarbonate can be supplied in many different thicknesses, colors, and grades.  It is an amorphous thermoplastic material, with a continuous use temperature range of up to 265° F (129° C).

  • Impact Resistant
  • Optical Quality
  • Printable
  • Formable
  • Lightweight Compared to Glass
  • FDA Compliant (Grade Specific)
  • Low Moisture absorption
  • High Strength and Stiffness
  • Easy to Machine
  • Low Friction

Polycarbonate sheets are available in various sizes and thicknesses. We carry a large inventory of popular brands in a variety of thicknesses listed below. The thickness you need for your application depends entirely on the application at hand. If you are unsure about which thickness is suitable for your project, please contact us. We are backed by the industry's most knowledgeable sales team, have extensive experience, and can, with sufficient information, make a good estimate of the thickness to be used. If you need a larger sheet, request a free quote via the contact page.

Available thickness includes:

  •  0.030" 1
  •  1/16" 1
  •  1/8" 5
  •  3/16" 5
  •  1/4" 7
  •  3/8" 6
  •  1/2" 5

DID YOU KNOW?


That people use Lexan and Polycarbonate interchangeably? There is absolutely no difference between both of them. The most popular brand of Polycarbonate is Lexan but other brand names include Palsun and Makrolon. Just think of the brand Kleenex that is interchangeably used for facial tissues.


Which Polycarbonate Sheet Is Right for me?

 

  • General Purpose Polycarbonate - Highly transparent to light and has good optical clarity. Stiff and strong material that can retain its rigidity up to 284°F (140°C). Has a glass-like appearance but is 250 times the impact resistance of glass making it virtually shatterproof. Can withstand sun exposure before “yellowing” for about 5-7 years.
  • UV-Resistant Polycarbonate - This type combines the transparency and impact strength of general-purpose polycarbonate but is treated with a UV-resistant coating on both sides giving it the ability to last longer before weathering. It is a bit tougher and more tolerable of extreme conditions. Can last up to 10 years before degrading/yellowing, sometimes even as long as 15 years. 
  • Abrasion Resistant Polycarbonate - While UV and General Purpose Polycarbonate have lower scratch-resistant properties, Abrasions Resistant offers better durability and resistance in that regard. It also has a coating on both sides that improves the resistance to weathering, ultraviolet damage, and chemicals.
  • Twinwall/Multiwall Polycarbonate - This type of polycarbonate is super lightweight and offers a high degree of thermal insulation properties. It is basically unbreakable, UV resistant, and weather resistant. It is commonly used in exterior applications such as greenhouses, roofing panels, and other outdoor applications. Designed with “flutes” that run between the two surfaces of the material that enhance airflow and insulation. 
  • Colored Polycarbonate - Retains equal durability as general-purpose but comes in a variety of colors and degrees of transparency. It is stronger than glass and acrylic, can be easily fabricated, and is super versatile. Common colors are bronze and grey but can come in almost any color. Used to enhance design and displays, and can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Polycarbonate Applications 

Polycarbonate is a highly versatile material that is used in a variety of situations, most commonly in see-through applications. Polycarbonate comes in a variety of textures and surface patterns for applications requiring a range of purposes such as light diffusion, object privacy, and custom fabrication. 

 

  • Exteriors for greenhouses- Polycarbonate has higher light-diffusing qualities which is helpful for the plants to grow. It also has insulating and moisture resistance properties allowing it to retain heat and hold up to humidity better than glass. Its durability allows it to last much longer too, for it can withstand all sorts of weather/impact conditions without damage. The construction process is easier too for the material is not as heavy as glass and is easier to fabricate on.
  • Windows- Its impact resistance and resistance to UV rays makes it a great alternative to glass windows
  • Roofing panels- Easier to install, lighter, and more durable.
  • Skylights- Impact resistance and long-lasting than glass or acrylic
  • Protective barriers and fencing- Not as expensive as glass barriers

Polycarbonate Physical Properties

  Units ASTM Test   General Purpose Polycarbonate  
Tensile strength @ break @ 73°F psi D638 7,310 – 10,700  
Flexural modulus @ 73°F psi D790 250,000 – 417,000  
Izod impact (notched) ft-lbs/in of notch D256 1.1 – 18  
Deflection Temperature Under Load @ 264 psi Unannealed ft-lbs/in of notch D658 249 – 282  
Coefficient of linear thermal expansion (CLTE) (in/in F) D696 3.2E-5 to 3.9E-5  
Compressive strength psi D695 9,000 – 12,500 9,000 – 12,500
Coefficient of friction   D1894 0.060 – 0.39  
Taber Abrasion Resistance mg D1044 9.90 – 10.8  
Water absorption – 24 hours – 1/8″ thick 0.036 – 0.11% D570 0.15 – 0.21  
Deflection Temperature Under Load @ 264 psi °F D648 277 – 289  
Compressive strength psi D695 9,000 – 12,500 9,000 – 12,500

.

* Technical Data is provided courtesy of UL Prospector (www.ulprospector.com) and IAPD (www.IAPD.org).

Data is to be considered representative and is provided for guidance only. All product performance must be verified by the user under actual application conditions.

Polycarbonate vs. Glass

 

Polycarbonate Glass
  • Virtually unbreakable
  • Lightweight
  • Flexible
  • Weather-resistant
  • 200 times the impact resistance
  • More cost-effective
  • Transparent
  • Greater transparency/optical clarity
  • Less susceptible to heat damage
  • Can shatter
  • Expensive
  • Does not diffuse as much UV light
  • Heavier
  • Etching on Glass surface
  • Unsafe for Earthquake-prone areas
  • Heat Absorbent
  • Glare

 

Polycarbonate is lighter in weight than glass and has better insulating and UV light diffusing capabilities in comparison to glass. Polycarbonate will not shatter like glass will and is the more cost-effective of the two. Glass does have a longer lifespan in comparison to Polycarbonate.

Which product best suits your needs? Talk to our sales professionals for additional information.

Polycarbonate vs. Plexiglass (Acrylic)

 

Polycarbonate Plexiglass
  • 200 times the impact resistance of glass
  • Unbreakable
  • Better for high demanding applications
  • Completely clear but has a bluing agent added so the edges when in a certain light/angle will give off a bluish hue.
  • Has more flexibility
  • Cannot be polished
  • Easier to fabricate on
  • Can handle temperatures up to 284°F
  • 17 times the impact resistance of glass
  • Higher scratch resistance
  • Better optical clarity
  • Stiffer and shinier
  • Completely clear all around
  • More commonly used for displays, table top protectors, and fish aquariums
  • More cost-effective in comparison
  • Better rigidity
  • Can be polished
  • Can expand contract with changes in temperature
  • Can withstand temperature from ranges -30°F to 190°F

 

These two products are the hardest to tell apart. They both offer a lot of the same qualities but polycarbonate is more durable and acrylic has better optical clarity. Acrylic is not as flexible as polycarbonate but is able to be polished and laser routed without issue. Acrylic also has better scratch resistance, while Polycarbonate can be drilled and cut easier.

Which product best suits your needs? Talk to our sales professionals for additional information.

Polycarbonate vs. PVC

 

Polycarbonate PVC
  • Thermoplastics
  • Average light transparency
  • Higher impact resistance
  • FDA compliant
  • Easily machined
  • Thermoplastic
  • Higher scratch resistance
  • Better light transparency
  • More cost-effective
  • Good insulating properties
  • Odorless and nontoxic  
  • Durable and light
  • Fire resistant

 

In short, polycarbonate offers better durability and impact resistance while PVC is lighter and has a higher scratch tolerance. They are both thermoplastics with good insulating properties and are both chemically resistant.

All in all, Polycarbonate is one of the most durable and strongest plastics. Its impact resistance is without a doubt incomparable. Choosing between these materials always comes down to personal preference and what you think is most important to your application. 


Which product best suits your needs? Talk to our sales professionals for additional information.

Fabricating Polycarbonate

 

In addition to the excellent impact resistance and fire properties of polycarbonate, the advantage of polycarbonate compared to plexiglass is that the material can be easily processed by the do-it-yourselfer. Polycarbonate can be cut/fabricated using a router, circular saw (recommended tool), or a table saw. A fine-toothed blade will yield the best results. In regards to drilling into polycarbonate, you can use a standard drill bit that has to be sharp, this is crucial. You can use a standard handheld drill but a drill press will be easier to use on this material. Polycarbonate cannot be polished but can have the edges and corners rounded without issue. For thicker thicknesses, it is recommended to preheat the plate. 

ShapesPlastics offers a variety of fabrication options at your disposal.  For the do-it-yourselfers, we recommended ordering a sample piece of plastic sheets prior to purchase so you can practice different machining styles. You can also take advantage of our custom fabrication services to save time and money - get what you want - exactly the way you want it. For polycarbonate, we can drill holes, round the edges (the sides), and round the 4 corners of the sheet (radius corners). We utilize a shilling, table saw, and a CNC router so we have the ability to cut more specialized projects. 

Gluing/Fusing Polycarbonate

Standard glue/solvents do not work well on polycarbonate and require an agent that will chemically connect the material together. Instead of gluing, polycarbonate needs to be “fused” together. Methyl Methacrylate is the most commonly used fusing agent on polycarbonate that creates a silient bond. You can also use super glue and epoxy to glue polycarbonate together.

How to Use Methyl Methacrylate

  1. Make sure the piece of polycarbonate you are using is clean.
  2. Apply methyl methacrylate to the area you are intending to join.
  3. Let the methyl methacrylate sit for about a minute and seep into the polycarbonate before attaching the other piece- when it feels sticky it is ready to bond.
  4. Hold the other piece you are joining to the area with the methacrylate on it and hold that together for about 5 minutes.
  5. Let it sit for about 72 hours to fully adhere.

Experts at ShapesPlastics recommend ordering a sample piece of the plastic sheet prior to purchase so you can practice different gluing techniques based on your application requirements. 

Cleaning Polycarbonate

You can clean polycarbonate with warm water, a few drops of detergent, and a microfiber wipe of some sort. Do not use a dry cloth because this can result in scratching the material. Do not use household cleaning agents such as Lysol or Windex, for they can damage the material. It is best to avoid strong chemically based cleaners.


WHERE CAN I GET POLYCARBONATE?


ShapesPlastics is your go-to for your Polycarbonate needs. We offer a variety of polycarbonate in different thicknesses and grades. Primarily, we offer Lexan brand Polycarbonate but have the ability to source from different manufacturers. We offer cut-to-size and fabrication options so you can get exactly what you need without the hassle of having to cut it yourself. ShapesPlastics’s ability to create cut-to-size products that deliver the best quality, precision in cutting, and tight tolerances is what truly sets us apart. We also provide value-added precision fabrication services such as drilling holes, diamond and flame polishing, rounded edges, radius corners, and state-of-the-art CNC routing and cutting services for exceptionally smooth surface finish.

Not only can we cut what you need, but we can also ship it for free if it is a standard size piece. We offer competitive prices, an easy-to-use website, and have knowledgeable staff that is ready to help point you in the right direction. Thinking of purchasing Polycarbonate sheets at Home Depot or Polycarbonate at Lowes? They don't cut to your specification and frankly, here at ShapesPlastics, we are less expensive and offer an array of services so you get exactly what you want.


Frequently Asked Questions

There are many details for a trained eye that separate Polycarbonate from other plastic materials. The simplest way is by the blue-purple glow on the edge of the material which is unique to Polycarbonate, and materials like acrylic and PETG don’t have.

At a more technical level, you can identify Polycarbonate through its heating properties - it’s self-extinguishing whereas acrylic/plexiglass is not. 

At a mechanical level, Polycarbonate is virtually indestructible so you can carry a fun science experience and drop Polycarbonate panels with the tip on a stone or concrete - if it does not shatter, it is most likely Polycarbonate.

No, they are not. Plexiglass is a brand name that is interchangeably used with Acrylic and therefore, a completely different material from Polycarbonate. When compared, Polycarbonate is stronger and less impact resistant.

Many people don’t realize this, but Lexan® is a brand name of SABIC plastics (a plastic manufacturer) for polycarbonate. Being the most popular brand of Polycarbonate, it is often used interchangeably when referring to Polycarbonate sheets. We do offer alternatives from this brand.

Yes, Polycarbonate sheets can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications - it retains transparency after years of weather extremes such as exposure to sun and wind. The non-UV resistant quality will turn yellow when used outdoors as a result of UV radiation, so our experts at ShapesPlastics recommend a UV resistant polycarbonate sheet.

There are a variety of industries that use this material for both indoor and outdoor applications. These include aerospace; armored vehicle; automotive; building & construction; bullet/blast/wind resistant security windows, doors, enclosures and glazing; golf cart windshields; greenhouses; heavy equipment; machine guards; milling and mining; movie studio/sound stage; POP/display; recreational vehicles; skylights; thermoformers; transit shelters; watercraft; and window glazing.

The short answer is yes, but it’s also self-extinguishing. Simply said, you would need a different fuel / heat to keep a fire going. This is an important distinction for specific applications, such as public transportation and aviation.

If Polycarbonate is heated / burning, the fumes from the fire are toxic. However, in its natural state, it is not poisonous, but doesn’t have any food grade certification either.

Compared to plastic sheets such as acrylic/plexiglass, Polycarbonate is slightly more expensive. On average, 30% more expensive than extruded acrylic and 15% more expensive than cast acrylic. However, it is important to note that Polycarbonate like any other product prices fluctuate based on demand and supply at a global level. The price is also dependent on variables such as size, thickness, features, and quantity. 

At ShapesPlastics, our long-standing partnership with quality manufacturers allows us to provide you with the best prices. We also offer a tiered pricing model that will allow you to save even more!

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