How do I tell the difference between Acrylic and Polycarbonate, and which do I need?

Top choices between clear or near clear plastics, acrylic plexiglass sheet and polycarbonate panel are often considered as solutions for a broad range of optical applications. How do they compare? The answer depends...

Both Acrylic and Polycarbonate are half the weight of comparably sized glass by volume. For what you lose in weight, you gain in strength with either product. Both are synthetic glass, and each offers tremendous flexibility.

Acrylic has roughly 17 times the impact resistance. Polycarbonate is the stronger material at 250 times the impact resistance of standard glass.

  Acrylic or Plexiglass Sheeting Polycarbonate Sheeting
  • Easier to machine than polycarbonate
  • Can be polished, both for scratches and clean edges
  • Better glue bonding
  • Shinier
  • Less expensive than polycarbonate by as much as 35%
  • Greater strength than acrylic
  • More flexible than acrylic; can be shaped at room temperature
  • Can be exposed to high temperatures and is non-flammable
  • Highly resistant to chemicals
  • Can be drilled without cracking
  • Lighter in weight than comparable acrylic
  • More rigid
  • More likely to crack during drilling or upon impact
  • More likely to chip
  • Should not be exposed to open flames
  • Scratches easily
  • Cannot be polished
  • Can be dented easily
  • More translucent than transparent as compared to acrylic
Available in a broad range of standard and custom colors, let Acme Plastics be your one stop plastics center for acrylic and polycarbonate.