What is polycarbonate?

Polycarbonate is another clear thermoplastic not too dissimilar in appearance to acrylic. One of the better known brands of polycarbonate is Lexan.

Rated at up to 250 times more impact resistant that ordinary glass of the same thickness polycarbonate has many uses including aircraft windows, motorbike windshields, machine guards and bullet proof windows.

Being a thermoplastic it can be formed however, for the DIYer it can be much more difficult to work with than acrylic. The main reason for this is that polycarbonate is hydroscopic. That is, is absorbs moisture from the atmosphere and when exposed to heat in the forming process this moisture can rise to the surface of the sheet causing bubbles to appear. For this reason many professional vacuum formers avoid polycarbonate and use hi-impact acrylic instead.

One way to get around the hydroscopic tendencies of the material is to pre dry it before attempting to bend it. This can be done (with care) in an oven or under a heat lamp.

Polycarbonate is lightweight and extremely strong and is commonly available in thickness from 1mm to 12.7mm. It can be purchased from Plasweld in full sheet sizes of 1220mm x 2440mm in general purpose, UV resistant 2 side and scratch resistant grades.

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