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Polycarbonate vs Acrylic

Polycarbonate and acrylic are two types of clear plastic that look very similar. But what is the difference between polycarbonate and acrylic sheet? Read on to discover more about the differences between polycarbonate vs acrylic so that you can choose the best material for your project.

Acrylic or polycarbonate as an alternative to glass

Acrylic is one of the most well-known and widely used plastic sheet materials. This type of plastic consists of a combination of acetone, methanol, hydrogen cyanide and sulfuric acid. These are all toxic substances, but the end product is harmless once the production process is complete. Acrylic is thirty times more resistant to impact than standard glass, but only half as heavy – and it’s a lot cheaper! That’s why acrylic glass is often used to replace glass. Some commonly seen applications include bathroom windows, boat windows, double windows, and as a replacement for broken glass in a photo frame. And acrylic is also easy to work with, so it’s very popular for DIY projects.

Polycarbonate is a robust, transparent plastic sheet, also known as Lexan. The material is highly resistant to impact, being an astonishing 250 times stronger than glass. This type of plastic sheet is also twice as light as standard glass. Polycarbonate is also one of the few kinds of plastic that can withstand high temperatures, so it’s widely used as safety glazing. Although this material’s very strong, polycarbonate is easy to process. You’ll often see polycarbonate used for roofs, canopies and boat windows. Polycarbonate is also an ideal material for constructing a greenhouse.

Cast and extruded acrylic: what’s the difference?

There are two types of acrylic sheet: cast and extruded. Cast acrylic is cast into a flat sheet during the production process. Extruded acrylic sheet is rolled after casting, creating a larger surface area. Because an extruded sheet is thinner, it’s more likely to break or tear. So while extruded acrylic is cheaper than cast acrylic, it’s not suitable for projects that require it to be processed.

Types of Lexan: solid and hollow-core sheets

Two types of polycarbonate sheets are available: solid sheets and hollow-core sheets. Hollow-core sheets contain small air-filled spaces, so they’re very lightweight. Solid sheets don’t have these spaces. So they’re a lot heavier but also more robust. In our webshop, you’ll only find solid polycarbonate sheets.

A key difference between polycarbonate and acrylic

An important difference between polycarbonate and acrylic is that when you bend acrylic sheet, it remains crystal clear. Thanks to this property, you can create lovely pieces of furniture, such as these acrylic side tables. However, it’s best to bend polycarbonate cold. You can learn more about this in our blog posts: “Bending polycarbonate: everything you need to know” and “Bending acrylic: the best approach.”
Below, we’ve drawn up the most important properties of acrylic and polycarbonate in a table. Here, you can see at a glance the difference between acrylic sheet and polycarbonate:

Acrylic

Polycarbonate

Advantages
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to process
  • UV-resistant
  • Inexpensive
  • Lets in more light through than glass
  • Extremely impact-resistant
  • UV-resistant
  • Resistant to high temperatures
  • More translucent than glass
Disadvantages
  • Sensitive to scratches
  • Sensitive to scratches
Finishes

 

Popular applications Balcony glazing, boat and caravan windows, verandas, display cabinets, nameplates. Safety glasses, safety, greenhouses, canopies, bus shelters, machine shielding, car headlights, police shields.
Other names Acrylate, Deglas, Versato, Perspex, Paraglas, Altuglas, Vitredil, Vedril, Oroglas. Lexan, Axxis, Caliber, Radilux, Sinvet.
Prijs Vanaf £21,31 per m2 Vanaf £26,85 per m2

Ordering acrylic or polycarbonate online

Do you require acrylic or polycarbonate for a greenhouse, shed window or another project? You’ll find a wide range of acrylic, polycarbonate, and other plastic sheets in an array of colours and thicknesses in our webshop. We cut the sheets for you in any shape you like. And we can also cut your own design: just upload a DXF file. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.