Difference Between Acrylic and Polycarbonate: A Comparative Guide

When it comes to plastics, there are a lot of different kinds out in today’s market. Companies will try to convince you at all costs that their one is the best kind out there and it can withstand any kind of adversity. But if you look at it the right way, you’ll find two kinds of plastic in general- acrylic and polycarbonate.

So, if you want to make a good purchase choice when it comes to plastic, you must know the difference between acrylic and polycarbonate. And this is where we come in. We have put together this feature that talks about the crucial difference in these products and much more. So, let’s jump in.

 

Polycarbonate Vs. Acrylic: A Brief Overview

In order to properly get the difference between these two kinds of plastic, you’ll need to understand what they are and how they function. In this section, we’ll give you a brief overview of them. But if you already know the basics of acrylic and polycarbonate, feel free to move on to the next section.

 

What Is Acrylic?

Acrylic Sheet

Acrylic is a synthetic material that has a polymer as its base. This polymer is a combination of different molecules that together form a long chain, which is the material that we know as acrylic. Now, this polymer has several characteristics that make it unique.

 

Highlighted Characteristics

  • Easy to cut
  • Clear properties due to 92% light transmission
  • Less expensive compared to glass and polycarbonate
  • Can be bent easily with heat
  • Glossy surface

 

What Is Polycarbonate?

Polycarbonate Sheet

Polycarbonate, on the other hand, is also synthetic and has a polymer as its base. But it uses a bluing agent during production. So, polycarbonate products are not as clear as acrylic.

 

Highlighted Characteristics

  • Can be bent without heating
  • Highly durable (even has bulletproof variants)
  • Resistant to acid and such chemicals
  • 250 times stronger than glass and 30 times stronger than acrylic

Read about the difference between T568A and T568B.

 

Which Is Better – Acrylic or Polycarbonate?

Acrylic and polycarbonate are quite the same, as both of them come from synthetic polymers. But they have some differences that make one better than the other.

Which One Is Stronger?

When it comes to strength, polycarbonate wins the competition. Due to its molecular composition, the polymer behind polycarbonate is much stronger. To put it in numbers, it’s 30 times stronger.

So, it does not shatter when force is applied to it. On the other hand, acrylic can easily shatter if too much force is applied.

 

Which Is Easier to Cut Apart?

As we mentioned before, polycarbonate is stronger than acrylic. So, it’s a bit hard to cut. However, acrylic can be cut pretty easily. That is why people tend to use acrylic for crafting things.

 

Which Is Easier to Mold or Bend?

The bonds in acrylic are relatively weaker. So, it is easier to bend acrylic. Hence, you can easily make shapes with acrylic. On the contrary, you can use polycarbonate as well, but it’ll be a harder task. But you can bend polycarbonate without heating.

 

Which Polishes Better?

Acrylic can be polished to give it a better shine. However, you won’t be able to polish polycarbonate.

 

Which Costs More?

Acrylic is relatively cheaper between these two options. Polycarbonate can be 25% more expensive, depending on the grade.

 

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Comparison Summary

Now that you know the differences, we’d like to point out the pros and cons of both types of plastic. So, here’s a chart that can add in some extra information for you to weigh.

Parameters of Comparison 

Acrylic

Polycarbonate

Pros

· Easier to cut and put together in crafts

· Can be polished and waxed

· Works better with glue

· Has a better shine thanks to its clear properties

· Stronger than acrylic

· Can be molded without heating

· Chemical resistant

· High temperature tolerance and non-flammable

Cons

· Not as durable as polycarbonate

· Prone to cracking while drilled

· Can’t be polished

· Scratches easily

· Transmits less light, so more of a translucent plastic than transparent

 

Final Words

In the information above, we tried to give you a quick overview of the difference between acrylic and polycarbonate. Now, the difference between them doesn’t make one completely different from the other. They have their distinct uses.

Acrylic is better for craftwork and projects that need the material to be moldable or bendable & easy to put together. On the other hand, polycarbonate is for projects that need durability and longevity.

So, we recommend that you gather information on the kind of work you’re doing and then choose the plastic that fits your work the best.

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