Differences Between Acrylic and Polycarbonate

Find the Best See-Through Plastic for Your ApplicationPolycarbonate vs. Acrylic

Acrylic (PMMA) and polycarbonate (PC) are similar plastics in having high clarity, meaning the materials are see-through like glass. They’re both frequently used in applications requiring see-through material that is stronger than glass, such as aquariums, storm window linings, glasses, computer screens, and more.

What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Acrylic Over Polycarbonate?

Poly(methyl methacrylate), also known as acrylic, is a clear thermoplastic homopolymer often used as a more resistant alternative to glass. Acrylic is shinier than polycarbonate, giving it a more smooth glass-like quality. It’s also affordable, making it one of the most common types of clear moldable plastics available to the general public.

Benefits of acrylic plastic:

  • Transparent properties
  • Weather resistance
  • Chemical resistance
  • Surface Hardness
  • Dimensional Stability
  • Non-toxic composition

Drawbacks of acrylic plastic:

  • Not as strong as polycarbonate
  • Prone to cracking under stress due to its brittle nature
  • Doesn't bend as well as polycarbonate

What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Polycarbonate Over Acrylic?

Polycarbonate (PC) is a naturally transparent plastic often used in injection molding processes. At room temperature, it is incredibly durable upon impact, being shatter-resistant due to its amorphous construction.

Benefits of polycarbonate plastic:

  • Durable: PC is 250 times strong than glass
  • Easily shapable
  • Lightweight
  • Capable of thermal insulation
  • Color options are many
  • Versatile

Drawbacks of polycarbonate plastic:

  • Prone to scratches and dents with use over time
  • Less commercial availability
  • More expensive

How to Choose Between Polycarbonate and Acrylic

Retlaw Industries manufactures thermoplastic parts with both acrylic and polycarbonate materials. Depending on the qualities you want your see-through plastic products to have, Retlaw can design a solution. For over 40 years, our Hartland, WI facility has produced quality injection molded products for a wide variety of industries. Contact us to learn more or to get a FREE product quote.

Common applications of acrylic plastic:

  • Lenses
  • Plastic nails
  • Aquariums
  • LCD screens
  • Furniture
  • Sporting equipment
  • Colored splashbacks

Common applications of polycarbonate plastic:

  • Electronic components
  • Construction materials
  • DVDs and Blu-ray discs
  • Automotive parts
  • Aircraft parts
  • Medical tools
  • Smartphone parts
Contact the plastic manufacturers Wisconsin companies trust today to get a product quote. 
Retlaw sells in all 50 states. Let's get together and build a solution.
For over 40 years, Retlaw has produced quality injection molding tools which has led us into thermoplastic injection molding for a wide variety of industries. With over 19 injection molding machines, decades of collective experience, and over 50,000 square feet under roof and room to expand, we are always ready for your new projects.
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