Polycarbonate Glazing

A polycarbonate sheet is a tough plastic (shaped into a transparent or opaque sheet) that absorbs little moisture as well as resists chemicals. It is also flame retardant and is not prone to impact damage. Since it has many desirable features, it has been adapted for many uses in place of glass, acrylic, and other materials.

Polycarbonate is no doubt one of the stronger materials used in manufacturing and in fact is over 200x stronger than glass, offering a durable and tough option for building projects. You probably see polycarbonate material everywhere, every day but you just don’t realise, as its use has become widespread in many disciplines, the most popular of course, being the building trade.

The following diagram shows the relative impact strength of Polycarbonate when compared to the impact strength of other commonly used plastics such as ABS, Polystyrene (PS), or Nylon.

Another feature of polycarbonate is that it is very pliable. It can typically be formed at room temperature without cracking or breaking, similar to aluminium sheet metal. Although deformation may be simpler with the application of heat, even small-angle bends are possible without it. This characteristic makes polycarbonate sheet stock particularly useful in prototyping applications where sheet metal lacks viability (e.g. when transparency is required or when a non-conductive material with good electrical insulation properties is required).

How Are Polycarbonate Sheets Made?

Polycarbonate can be processed and manufactured in a wide variety of ways, such as extrusion, injection moulding, blow moulding, thermoforming, and more. When it comes to producing polycarbonate sheets, however, the extrusion manufacturing process is most commonly utilized.

To begin the process, raw resin (polycarbonate pellets) is fed into an extruder and melted to the desired temperature. The melted polycarbonate material is then forced through a die that is shaped to produce flat sheets of various lengths, widths, and thicknesses with uniform cross-sections. During this process, the polycarbonate sheet can be produced with colours, high or low glosses, smooth or textured surfaces, and in single or multiple layers.

Once the polycarbonate sheets have been fabricated through the extrusion process, they can be further processed to achieve the desired final product.


Day to Day Products

We may not even notice that many products we use every day contain polycarbonate but although many items use light plastics and cheap plastics, there are some which are utilising this incredibly strong and tensile plastic. Some of these include luggage cases, bike frames, car roofs, tailgates, bottles, swimming pool enclosures, ski goggles and LED lighting. It's become the plastic of choice as a durable and strong alternative to other materials for consumer products.


Building Industry

Polycarbonate sheet is over 200 times stronger than glass, making it a great replacement option for glass when available. It is also easier to mould than other materials. The durability makes it a top option for skylights and glazing security lights in buildings. It insulates much better than glass and can also help lower energy costs when used in place of glass for building purposes.

The shatterproof nature of polycarbonate means it's ideal for not only roofing but also perfect for garden sheds and greenhouses in particular. We’ve also seen more use of polycarbonate in garden properties because of its contribution towards reducing greenhouse emissions.

Room Divider

A common use for polycarbonate sheets is dividing a room. Since the sheet is lightweight, it is easy to move from place to place. Some are manufactured in accordion style so you can open and close the divider as needed, and some are even made on wheels for easier movement.

Bullet Resistance

In places where bullet-resistant glass is a necessity, a polycarbonate sheet can help provide proper protection and security. The polycarbonate sheet is placed in between layers of the glass, providing protection should any bullets hit the surface.

Riot shields are also commonly created with polycarbonate sheet due to the bullet resistance.