No matter how much experience you have working with plastics, sometimes a direct comparison of physical properties is the best way to determine which material is best for your application/project.

For your convenience and information, Acme Plastics created this reference guide to compare popular plastics, including Acrylic, PETG, Polystyrene (HIPS), Polycarbonate, and Expanded PVC.

Click on any product names below to bring up additional information.



Extruded Acrylic - Deceptively fragile in appearance, but supports weight remarkably well. It's more dimensionally stable than cast acrylic sheets, and is easier to laser cut, rout, and polish. Recyclable.
Formability: Thermoformable
Transparency: Very Clear (92% light transmission)
Chemical Resistance: Poor
Bonds Well?: Yes
Prone to Stress Cracking?: Yes
Fatigue Resistance: Poor
Suitability For Bearing and Wear Applications: Structural Applications Only
Cost: $ (Inexpensive)
Maximum Continuous Service Temperature: Moderate (70°C to 90°C)
Tensile Strength: 10000 PSI
Bending Stiffness: 480000 PSI

Cast Acrylic - Lower angle distortion and higher chemical resistance than extruded acrylic. Higher resistance to crazing. More scratch resistant. Good thermal stability. Hard and clear. Unique forming properties.
Formability: Thermoformable
Transparency: Very Clear (92% light transmission)
Chemical Resistance: Poor
Bonds Well?: Yes
Prone to Stress Cracking?: Yes
Fatigue Resistance: Poor
Suitability For Bearing and Wear Applications: Structural Applications Only
Cost: $$ (Relatively Inexpensive)
Maximum Continuous Service Temperature: Moderate (70°C to 90°C)
Tensile Strength: 10000 PSI
Bending Stiffness: 480000 PSI

PETG - Easy to mold with 70% of the impact strength of polycarbonate. Commonly used for high strength display units and impact resistant glazing. Considered among the most environmentally friendly plastics. Cost effective and thermoformable.
Formability: Thermoformable
Transparency: Clear (90% light transmittance)
Chemical Resistance: Poor
Bonds Well?: Yes
Prone to Stress Cracking?: Yes
Fatigue Resistance: Poor
Suitability For Bearing and Wear Applications: Structural Applications Only
Cost: $$ (Relatively Inexpensive)
Maximum Continuous Service Temperature: Low (63°C)
Tensile Strength: 7700 PSI
Bending Stiffness: 310000 PSI

Polystyrene (HIPS) - Tough, opaque, solid colored material with good impact strength and a wide range of available colors. Tolerates machining well, and is vacuum formable. Used for packaging, retail displays, and rugged applications like kick plates.
Formability: Thermoformable
Transparency: Opaque
Chemical Resistance: Poor
Bonds Well?: Yes
Prone to Stress Cracking?: Yes
Fatigue Resistance: Poor
Suitability For Bearing and Wear Applications: Structural Applications Only
Cost: $$ (Relatively Inexpensive)
Maximum Continuous Service Temperature: Relatively Low (60°C to 80°C)
Tensile Strength: 3500 PSI
Bending Stiffness: 310000 PSI

Polycarbonate - Performance material with superior strength and durability, often considered “unbreakable” and used in harsh environments. Up to 200 times stronger than glass.
Formability: Thermoformable
Transparency: Clear (90% light transmission)
Chemical Resistance: Poor
Bonds Well?: Yes
Prone to Stress Cracking?: Yes
Fatigue Resistance: Poor
Suitability For Bearing and Wear Applications: Structural Applications Only
Cost: $$$$ (Expensive)
Maximum Continuous Service Temperature: Relatively High (121C)
Tensile Strength: 9500 PSI
Bending Stiffness: 345000 PSI

Expanded PVC - Lightweight, rigid, and solid colored material used primarily for signs and displays. Suitable for digital printing. Can be recycled up to 8 times, reducing environmental waste.
Formability: Thermoformable
Transparency: Opaque
Chemical Resistance: Good
Bonds Well?: Yes
Prone to Stress Cracking?: Yes
Fatigue Resistance: Poor
Suitability For Bearing and Wear Applications: Structural Applications Only
Cost: $$$ (Relatively Expensive)
Maximum Continuous Service Temperature: Relatively Low (50°C to 80°C)
Tensile Strength: 2200-3000 PSI
Bending Stiffness: 144000-232000 PSI

Additional Resources


This chart provides a broad, general comparison on cost, features, and applications. Click on any product names to bring up additional information. The information provided herein is general, and consists of best practices. The information is provided “AS IS" and "AS AVAILABLE,” without warranty or condition of any kind, either express or implied. Without limitation on the forgoing, we and our affiliates, subsidiaries, agents and their respective employees, contractors, directors, officers, and shareholders, specifically disclaim any and all warranties, including but not limited to: (i) any warranties concerning availability, accuracy, integration, appropriateness, suitability, reliability, completeness, timeliness or usefulness arising from trade usage or course of dealing or course of performance or otherwise, with respect to this website and the information, materials and content thereon, and the results that may be obtained from the use of them. Some jurisdictions do not allow limitations on how long an implied warranty lasts, so the above limitations may not apply.