What are Polycarbonates?
Polycarbonates are virtually unbreakable plastics that are available in transparent and opaque sheets. Polycarbonate polymers are used to create a variety of materials and are especially useful when impact resistance and/or transparency are a requirement (for example bullet-proof glass).
Due to the different kinds of polycarbonate available for purchase, polycarbonate can be used in many distinct purposes. Polycarbonate can be fashioned into eye wear lenses, protective gear including bullet-resistant glass, medical equipment, and panels for greenhouses. It can also be used for glazing applications, creating products such as CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs, as well as outdoor lighting fixtures.
Polycarbonate sheeting is cold curve-able, meaning it can typically be formed at room temperature into sharp angles or deep curves without cracking or breaking.
What are the different types of Polycarbonates?
Now that we know what it is & what polycarbonate is used for, let us examine some of its key properties. It is classified as a “thermoplastic” as opposed to “thermoset”. The name has to do with the way the plastic responds to heat. Thermoplastic materials become liquid at their melting point (155 degrees Celsius in the case of Polycarbonate). A major beneficial attribute about thermoplastics is that they can be heated to their melting point, cooled, and reheated again without significant degradation.
By contrast, thermoset plastics can only be heated once (typically during the injection molding process). The first heating causes thermoset materials to set (like a 2-part epoxy) resulting in a chemical change that cannot be reversed. If you tried to heat a thermoset plastic to a high temperature a second time it would simply burn. This characteristic makes thermoset materials poor candidates for recycling.
Polycarbonate is also shapeless material, meaning that it does not exhibit the ordered characteristics of crystalline solids. Typically, shapeless plastics demonstrate a tendency to gradually soften, for example, they have a wider range between their glass transition temperature and their melting point. Rather than exhibit a sharp transition from solid to liquid as is the case in crystalline polymers.
The Benefits of Polycarbonate Guarding
Polycarbonate boasts a wide range of benefits, making it a popular plastic to use. It is extremely durable while being exceptionally lightweight, making it an ideal replacement for windows. In fact, a sheet of polycarbonate is 250 times stronger than a pane of glass while being highly shatter resistant. As a result, polycarbonate is often used for security, or making durable, long-lasting consumer products.
Polycarbonate has a long list of benefits, making it ideal for a variety of purposes. Here are just a few of polycarbonates amazing features:
- High Optical Clarity - Polycarbonate is exceptionally clear and can be mistaken for glass as a result.
- Thermal Insulation - Polycarbonate traps heat up to 60 percent better than glass. For this reason, polycarbonate is often used in greenhouses, or in energy-efficient buildings.
- Easy to Install - As a durable and lightweight plastic, polycarbonate is simple to install, especially with the help of a frame or a support structure.
- Versatile - Polycarbonate can be molded into a wide variety of shapes, including sheets, panels, rods, tubes, and more.
- Easy to Shape - Polycarbonate can be cut with standard woodworking tools like a circular saw or jigsaw.
- Sustainable - As a thermoplastic, polycarbonate can easily be recycled by heating the plastic until it becomes a liquid, then molding it into a new shape.
If you have any more questions about what is polycarbonate, Polycarbonate guarding, or about our Defender Door and Defender Window please reach out to us. We would love to talk with you more in-depth about our products and why we started Heavy Equipment Armor.