Being transparent plastics, acrylic and polycarbonate are often compared with each other when considered for specific applications. However, the two materials have completely unique properties, making them suitable for different applications.
Polycarbonate is high on impact resistance and is often used for manufacturing safety guards and sight glasses, and even in glazing applications. Compared to glass, it is much lighter but has up to 250 times the impact strength. Polycarbonate is a great replacement for glass in anti-vandal applications or high traffic areas, and can be cold or heat formed.
Acrylic does not have the same impact resistance as polycarbonate but is still up to 20 times more resistant to impact than glass. Being a cheaper material, acrylic is ideal for applications that are less prone to impact such as window panels, display stands and boat windscreens. Acrylic has better optical properties and can be polished. Harder than polycarbonate, acrylic is less prone to scratches. Acrylic is available in a wide range of colours and tints, and is easily polished.
Both acrylic and polycarbonate can be bent and fabricated using heat benders and vacuum formers. Thin gauges of polycarbonate sheet can also be cold formed.
Polycarbonate offers benefits such as self-extinguishing capability, excellent acoustics, UV resistance and ease of machining, drilling and cutting.
Acrylic has high surface hardness, weather resistance, good acoustics and light weight construction.