In our online shop we offer a wide range of polycarbonate sheets, also known as Lexan or Makrolon sheets. Polycarbonate is a strong plastic and is often used as security glazing. We stock polycarbonate sheets in the colours clear, opal white (28% light transmission), tinted grey and tinted brown. We offer sheet thicknesses ranging from 2 till 15 mm. Plasticsheetsshop cuts all polycarbonate sheets to size free of charge and the sheets will be ready for delivery within 48 hours. Below the products on this page, you will find more relevant information about the characteristics and applications of polycarbonate sheets.
Polycarbonate: a material with many names
In the plastics industry polycarbonate plastic is known under several names, such as: Arla, Margard, Calibre, Lexan, Radilux, Makrolon, Quin, Axxis, Panlite, Lexgard and Makrofol. Polycarbonate is a thermoplastic polymer and it is one of the few plastics that can withstand high temperatures. It is a tough, crystal clear material and its most important quality is its high impact resistance. Polycarbonate sheets are 250 times stronger than regular glass, while only weighing half as much. Making polycarbonate a popular material for security and vandalism proof glazing. Even though polycarbonate is a tough material, it is still widely applicable and easy to work with.
Varieties of polycarbonate sheets: solid and multiwall sheets
Generally, a distinction can be made between two kinds of polycarbonate sheets, namely: solid sheets and multiwall sheets. Multiwall sheets have many, small hollow areas in the centre of the sheet saving a large amount of weight without reducing the strength of the panel. Multiwall polycarbonate sheets are often used as transparent roofing for canopies and awnings. We do not carry multiwall sheets in our online shop, only solid polycarbonate sheets to ensure the best possible quality.
The application of polycarbonate
Due to its strength, polycarbonate is often used for heavy duty tasks like security glazing. It is also suitable for applications such as vandalism and burglary proof glazing, glazing for bus stops, bicycle parking, telephone booths and light advertising. Furthermore, the material is ideal for industrial purposes: from machine construction to the food industry. Polycarbonate is extremely difficult to break or crack, and it can resist high temperatures as well as high pressure. But don’t let the tough qualities scare you off, because it is also suitable for more common practises. For example, it can be used to replace boat and shed windows or to create canopies, balcony screens and greenhouses. Polycarbonate is not only strong, it is also diverse and multifunctional.
What sheet thickness do I need?
This question does not have an easy answer. Even the thinner polycarbonate sheets are very strong, so it really depends on the purpose of the sheet. If it is used as security glazing, we recommend using a minimum sheet thickness of 4 mm. For aquatic applications, like aquariums, we strongly suggest a minimum of 5 mm. A sheet thickness of 6 mm is the absolute minimum if the sheet is used as a window that is 1.5 square metre or larger. If you are not sure what sheet thickness suits your specific project, please don’t hesitate to contact our customer service team for advice.
Working with polycarbonate sheets
Polycarbonate sheets may seem tough, but they are easy to handle for any (inexperienced) handyman. The run of the mill do-it-yourself tools will work fine for drilling, sawing and polishing the sheets. If you have any experience in working with acrylic sheets, it is good to know that handling polycarbonate sheets is very similar: the proper tools and precautions are almost the same. In fact, polycarbonate is actually easier to handle than acrylic since the chance of the material breaking is a lot smaller.
Polycarbonate colour choices
In our range we offer polycarbonate sheets in several colours: crystal clear, opal white, tinted grey and tinted brown. The opal white sheets are not transparent but still let light through, making them ideal for privacy glazing or in a light box. The homogenous colour of the sheet results in evenly distributed light. The tinted grey and brown polycarbonate sheets are suited for all privacy or light blocking purposes, for examples in boat or caravan windows, balcony screens and awnings. All polycarbonate sheets in our collection are UV resistant.
Mounting and fastening polycarbonate sheets
There are a number of ways to fasten polycarbonate sheets to a surface: screw connections, adhesive bonds or in rubber profiles. It is always important to keep in mind that polycarbonate can slightly expand depending on the temperature. A polycarbonate sheets expands 0.065 mm per metre per degrees Celsius. Therefore, it is pertinent to leave room for expansion. For example, imagine a 2-metre polycarbonate sheet that is used as balcony screen. The outside temperatures vary between -15° and + 35° Celsius, meaning a temperature difference of 50° Celsius on a 2-metre sheet. The expansion degree will be (2 * 0.065) * 50 = 6.5 millimetres. There will need to be room for 6.5 mm expansion. Make the screw holes slightly bigger than the actual screw to give the sheet room to expand. When using an adhesive bond, make sure to use a strong adhesive that will always remain flexible.
The characteristics of polycarbonate sheets
Polycarbonate is a thermoplastic polymer. It is a tough, crystal clear material and its most important quality is its high impact resistance. Polycarbonate sheets are 250 times stronger than regular glass. The sheets are available in a variety of colours, but the most popular colour is crystal clear. Clear polycarbonate has a light transmission of 92%, which is significantly higher than regular glass. This is the main reason that thick polycarbonate sheets are visibly clearer than glass, thick glass sheets often show discolouration. Another advantage when comparing polycarbonate to regular glass, is its weight: a polycarbonate sheet weighs half as much as a glass sheet. Additionally, all polycarbonate sheets in our range are UV resistant. All these qualities make polycarbonate a popular replacement for glass. In contrast to acrylic sheets, polycarbonate has a fire class B1, making it both heat and fire resistant as well as being self-extinguishing.
Maintenance and polishing
Cleaning polycarbonate sheets is an easy task. All that is required is a clean, damp cloth to make sure all the dirt is absorbed. Always use a clean cloth to prevent small particles from scratching the surface and creating dull, matt areas. To protect the sheet, treat the surface with Burnus antistatic cleaner. This product protects and preserves the plastic material.
Scratches and dull spots can be removed by polishing the sheet surface. There are two ways to go about this job: manual or mechanical. For small, light scratches or hazy spots we recommend manual polishing using a clean, dry (cotton) polishing cloth with a small amount of polish. Xerapol and Zvizzer are polishes that are especially designed for plastic sheets.
Deep scratches will have to be pre-treated by sanding the area of the scratch using normal sandpaper with a fine grain. Never use a grain that is coarser than 400. Start by sanding the area with a 400-grain sandpaper and repeat the process with an 800-grain sandpaper. Sand the spot lightly and don’t add to much pressure. The last step before polishing is using an extremely fine, wet sandpaper, 2000 or 2500-grain. Now it is time to mechanically polish the surface. Check the polishing process by gently cleaning the sheet to see if the scratches are gone. Continue polishing until the sheet is crystal clear again.