There are many brands of Acrylic and Polycarbonate on the market today, but none more recognisable than PERSPEX® Sheet (Acrylic) & LEXAN Sheet (Polycarbonate).
Each type is manufactured differently and both with different raw materials, with the end result being physical properties of each material being suited to a particular application.
Acrylic is also known as PMMA is Polymethyl methacrylate. Is a synthetic resin produced from the polymerization of methyl methacrylate. A transparent and rigid plastic.
This material trades under the name PERSPEX®, along with a lot of other trade names.
PERSPEX® can be found in everyday life from woman’s Acrylic jewellery to Acrylic Display cases, shatterproof windows, skylights, illuminated signs & acrylic Pool Guards.
It has an impact strength 17 times stronger than glass, has excellent UV resistance, can be made into virtually any shape, have a range of colours and thickness & is an excellent alternative to glass as it does not shatter.
LEXAN Polycarbonate is sold under the trade name of LEXAN or Makrolon and has a superior impact strength of up to 250 times that of glass, it is fire-resistant & mechanically a stronger but more flexible material.
LEXAN Polycarbonate is used in banks as pop up screens as the material is virtually bulletproof, it is also used in armour guard vehicles & in areas where product or people can be protected against vandalism.
UV LIGHT RESISTANCE & CLARITY:
LEXAN Polycarbonate has a UV protected film on both sides of the sheet of which gives a guaranteed 10 years of service outdoors whereas Perspex® is guaranteed for 30 years as it has in-built UV chemical stabilises within the material.
LEXAN Polycarbonate sheet has aan89% light transmission of light, compared to 92% for Acrylic.
Acrylic can be polished using “Brasso” to remove fine scratches, whereas Polycarbonate is a lot more difficult to remove marks & scratches.
PERSPEX® cast acrylic sheet has a wide range of working temperatures…..from -4 Deg. C up to 90 Deg. C…….it will expand with temperature increase so care should be taken to allow for expansion and contraction on large sheets.
LEXAN Polycarbonate, on the other hand, can handle temperatures up to -5 to 115 Deg. C.
Both materials can be cut with conventional jig-saws, routers and panel saws.
The material must always be laid flat on a surface and be well-supported, when doing any cutting, use carbide tipped negative rake saw blades for best results. (Available at Bunnings)
PERSPEX® can be cut on a Laser Machine leaving polished edge or router cut whereas LEXAN Polycarbonate can only be cut using a jig saws, routers & panel saws.
DRILLING / HOLE SAWS /INSTALLATION:
When drilling into PERSPEX® or LEXAN Polycarbonate, use a drill with a tip that has been ground to give a neutral rake at the cutting edge…(or use a blunt drill) Always have the material well-supported and do not rush, use a block of wood under where you are drilling….. If it drills too easily, the drill bits too sharp!
Do not place holes too close to the edge on Acrylic…..the material will break…..suggest 30mm in from edges. DO NOT POP RIVET Acrylic as it will crack, always drill an oversized hole (6mm Dia.) and use roofing screws with a rubber washer when fitting…. Do not overtighten….this is to allow for expansion and contraction of the material. Whereas, Polycarbonate is virtually unbreakable.
Both materials machine well in a CNC machine. These machines use solid Tungsten Carbide tool bits and can make any 3D design.
Both materials are machined to make various components used in Signage, engineering, scientific, transport industries depending on application.
PERSPEX® can be Laser cut to give a nice edge or diamond polished through a machine.
You can also use a hydrogen flame to polish the edge…all of which is not available to the general public……this is processed at our factory.
Alternatively both materials can be wet & dry paper 800, then 1000, then using a pistol drill & a rag buff & aluminium buffing wax bar…….buff the edge to a mirror finish.
LEXAN Polycarbonate can be diamond polished through a machine or by polishing the edge using Tetra Hydro Furan solvent and wiping the edge of the polycarbonate…..this will give a matt finish only.
PERSPEX® sheet can be bent on a heated “Line Bender” to form a right angle bend.
Also thermo-formed to different shapes by heating up to 165 to 170 Deg. Cent.
It must be cooled over a former to hold its shape.
Polycarbonate sheet can also be bent on a heated “Line Bender” to form a right angle bend.
LEXAN Polycarbonate is very difficult to form to shape, as the temperature needs to be up to 175 to 190 Deg Cent. The material cools very quickly and it is difficult to form.
PERSPEX® can be glued with solvents (Dichlorethane) or thickened glues such as Weld-On 16 glue…..or ACRI-Bond 110 Adhesive.
LEXAN Polycarbonate can be glued using Tetra Hydro Furan solvent or a thickened glue such as ACRI-Bond 105 adhesive.
CLEANING PERSPEX®/ LEXAN SHEET:
Both materials are easily cleaned using a 100% cotton cloth or microfiber and simple soapy water…….. Water based window cleaners such as WINDEX are ideal.
Do not use any organic solvent based cleaners on these materials as they will attack the surface causing damage…
LEXAN Polycarbonate Sheet scratches more easily than PERSPEX®, so it depends on where it is being used…..LEXAN for a earth moving machine (requires impact resistance), Acrylic for a pool fence guard (a guard only).
PERSPEX® sheet also has much better chemical resistance than LEXAN Polycarbonate.
Both products may be guaranteed for outdoor use, although LEXAN Polycarbonate does not have the same UV guarantee than PERSPEX®.
LEXAN Polycarbonate sheet is approx.. 35% more expensive than a PERSPEX® sheet of the same size and thickness……but where you would use 4.5mm thick PESPEX®, you can use 3mm Thick LEXAN Polycarbonate due to its toughness.
LEXAN Polycarbonate Sheet comes in range of thicknesses…..
1, 1.5 & 2mm thick in Clear only.
3, 4.5, & 6mm thick, Clear, Opal & Tint,
10mm thick Clear & Tint colours.
PERSPEX® Sheet comes in a range of thicknesses up to 50mm thick.
1.5mm thick…..Clear only
2mm Thick….Black, White, Clear & Opal
3mm Thick…..full colour range
4.5mm Thick…. Black, White, Clear & Opal & some colours
6mm. Thick…. Black, White, Clear & Opal & some colours
8mm. Thick…. Clear Only
10mm. Thick…. Black, White, Clear & Opal & some colours
12mm. Thick…. Black, White, Clear & Opal
15mm. Thick…. Black, White, Clear & Opal
20mm. Thick…. Black, White, Clear & Opal
25mm. Thick…. Black, White, Clear & Opal
Both materials have different properties and should be chosen depending on the application.
PERSPEX® sheet finds uses in areas where optimal weather and in-service resistance are required, since it can withstand the weather, sunlight and the elements better than LEXAN Polycarbonate.
PERSPEX® finds applications in areas such as signage, helicopter windows, motorcycle wind deflectors, window glazing & automotive rear lights.
LEXAN Polycarbonate, due to its toughness and durability is more suited to Police hand Shields, signage, roofing as it has high impact resistance to storm damage, earth moving equipment cabin windows, machine safety guards, bullet proof windows on armoured vehicles & pop up bulletproof screens in banks.
LEXAN Polycarbonate is not the best choice for UV resistance, but has many other advantages as a material.
To learn more about PERSPEX® and LEXAN visit www.perspexonline.com.au
CONTACT US For enquiries with our Full Plastic Fabrication Service.