How are Polycarbonate and Acrylic Different?
Acrylic and Polycarbonate are both half the weight of glass and yet both of these plastics are much stronger than glass. Acrylic has 17 times the impact resistance of glass. Polycarbonate has 250 times the impact resistance of glass. Acrylic is very rigid whereas polycarbonate is more flexible. Acrylic cracks more easily than polycarbonate under stress.
Light & Clarity
Acrylic also has better clarity than glass, with a light transmittance of 92 percent. Polycarbonate has a light transmittance of 88 percent. Acrylic can be polished to restore its clarity, while polycarbonate cannot.
Temperature Range / Chemical resistance
Acrylic can be used at temperatures ranging from -30 degrees to 90 degrees Celsius. It will expand and contract with changes in temperature although it won’t permanently shrink over time. Polycarbonate can handle temperatures up to 115 degrees. Polycarbonate is also highly resistant to chemicals such as gasoline and acids.
Both acrylic and polycarbonate can be cut with conventional tools such as saws or routers, though acrylic cuts easier than polycarbonate. Polycarbonate fights the initial push of a saw or router at the start of a cut.
Acrylic will crack if it is drilled near an edge or with a drill bit not designed for plastic. Polycarbonate typically does not crack when being drilled even if drilled close to the edge with a standard drill bit.
The edges of acrylic can be polished smooth if necessary; polycarbonate cannot be polished.
Heat bending works better with acrylic than polycarbonate. Polycarbonate can be cold formed or bent without heating.
Gluing with cements designed for acrylic and polycarbonate, acrylic gives a cleaner glue joint than polycarbonate.
Both acrylic and polycarbonate are easy to clean. The best choice for cleaning is a microfiber or 100-percent cotton cloths. Acrylic has a low chemical resistance and needs more specific cleaners. When cleaning acrylic, it is best to use only mild soap and water or a plastic cleaner. Polycarbonate has a higher chemical resistance than acrylic; it can be cleaned by harsher cleaners containing chemicals such as ammonia. Neither plastic should be cleaned with solvents.
Both acrylic and polycarbonate are weather resistant and expand and contract with temperature changes without long-term or permanent shrinkage. Both acrylic and polycarbonate can scratch, so wool rags and paper towels, which are made from abrasive binding agents, should be avoided. Acrylic is more likely to chip than polycarbonate because it is less impact-resistant. It does not scratch easily, however, and will not yellow over time. Polycarbonate has low flammability, while acrylic will burn slowly and is not recommended in areas where flames may be present.
Polycarbonate is more expensive than acrylic. It tends to cost about twice the price of acrylic
How do I clean Acrylic or Polycarbonate?
Both acrylic and polycarbonate are easy to clean. The best choice for cleaning is a microfibre or 100-percent cotton cloths. When cleaning acrylic, it is best to use only mild soap and water or a plastic cleaner. Polycarbonate has a higher chemical resistance than acrylic; it can be cleaned by harsher cleaners containing chemicals such as ammonia. Neither plastic should be cleaned with solvents. To clean, start off by clearing away any debris, then clean with soapy water to clean the entire surface area. Be sure to rotate the cloth regularly to avoid scratching. NEVER USE SOLVENTS ON ANY PLASTIC FOR CLEARNING.
What Type of File do I need to Provide for a Laser or CNC cut?
Both our CNC and Lasers use 2D CAD files. Ideally when you send drawings we would prefer a CAD file to be accompanied with a pdf version that shows some overall dimensions of the parts so we can check the scale of the CAD files is correct. We commonly use eps, dxf, dwg, cdr, or a pdf of these. The file needs to be vectorised i.e. must retain quality if expanded. If you are unable to get these then even a rough sketch is often enough to at least quote on and we can talk about working on drawings for you.
What thickness material do I need?
You tell us! Often materials are used in environments controlled by the building code (stairways etc..) we are unable to provide engineering or architectural advice but can provide material properties for your LBP or Engineer to calculate those requirements.
What is acrylic typically used for?
Acrylic is the same chemical used for many coatings, acrylic paints are used for houses interior and exterior and also marine and car paints. Acrylic is often known by it’s brand names Perspex or Lucite.
What is polycarbonate typically used for?
Polycarbonate is a tougher polymer than Acrylic so is often used in safety applications or where thinner layers are required to do the same job e.g. roofing.
Can you ship to me? how much will it cost?
Yes we can, The cost will vary on the location that we are shipping to, as well as the size of the order that you place.
For smaller items we generally use NZ Couriers and larger items are shipped with freight companies.
Most of our online shop items have freight added during check out. If you are combining items or buying multiples we recommend talking to us first to ensure the best rate.
How long will it take for you to complete my order?
Our lead time for
Cut to size – 24-48hr
Fabrication- 2-3 weeks
Moulding 4-6 weeks
This can vary dependant on seasonal fluctuations affecting workload.
Will acrylic go yellow over time?
Acrylic as with most plastics will degrade in time. If exposed to UV light it will generally chalk (whiten) and become brittle. Generally, we expect a clear or tinted acrylic to survive 10-15 years in a marine environment but this does vary dependant on brands. Please ensure you mention this if you are looking for a sheet to last a long period of time outdoors.
As a good rule of thumb Acrylic is the same monomer as your car paint or your house paint, you would expect your car still to be looking good in 10 years, but you would also expect to be seeing some degradation depending on colour.
What Glue Can I use?
Gluing acrylic and plastics in general will very much depend on the other substrate you are gluing to.
Acrylic to acrylic we have available Acryfix tubes (Link) this is a thickened glue that will provide a good bond. Thin capillary glues (methelene chloride) are registered poisons and as such cannot be purchased unless you are a licensed materials handler. We do not sell these solvents.
Acrylic to wall boards; generally, a good double sided tape or construction glue. If using a silicone ensure it is Neutral curing NOT acid curing.
Acrylic to steel / metals / wood generally an epoxy glue will work in this application please contact an epoxy specialist for their recommendation regarding priming and type (west systems web site) or the glue guru.
What information do I need to give you to place an order?
You would need to provide us with the measurements you need, thickness, material type and colour. Once placing the order, we would either take your name and phone number down and give you a call when its ready or we would get your name number and address that you would like to have your order sent to.
How do I cut and Drill Acrylic?
Drilling acrylic is fairly common sense, don’t drill too close to the edge, always support the acrylic on a flat surface, then don’t force the drill through the sheet i.e. just ease it through. It is often where small breakout shards can be seen that a crack will start.
Cutting acrylic is also fairly easy, we recommend a fine tooth saw preferably recommended for cutting plastics, again as with drilling just go nice and slow and don’t force the saw through the material i.e. let the saw do the work. Always support on a surface. An alternative is to router cut the edge using a template if doing do you should pre-trim the edge so that you are cutting less than half the diameter of the cutter with each pass.
Can I remove scratches?
It depends! small scuff marks will polish off with Brasso, however deeper scratches will require more work, wet and dry sanding followed by cut compound and buffing, we can do this for you, however the cost of the time involved in doing so is often offset by buying a new piece.