Acrylic (plexiglass) and polycarbonate (lexan) are commonly used in the sign industry. Both materials are avaialable in clear sheets. Both materials have different properties regarding brittleness and density.
Polycarbonate is much harder than acrylics. Abstract Image Group can print directly to both polycarbonate and acrylic, either on the surface, sub-surface or both.
Both poducts can be fabricated economically and efficiently for various signage applications. Abstract Image Group can fabricate both these materials using, direct printing using UV Flatbed printing technology, mounting and specialty finishing, table saws, drills, CNC table router. Polycarbonates and acrylics are available in a range of sizes and thicknesses, making them suitable not only for sign faces, display panels and POP displays but also individual cut letters and other graphic and architectural elements.
Acrylic and Polycarbonate are both half the weight of glass and yet both of these plastics are much stronger than glass.
- Acrylic has 17 times the impact resistance of glass. Polycarbonate has 250 times the impact resistance of glass.
- Acrylic is very rigid whereas polycarbonate can be bought in flexible grades.
- Acrylic cracks more easily than polycarbonate under stress.
Light & Clarity
- Acrylic also has better clarity than glass, with a light transmittance of 92 percent.
- Polycarbonate has a light transmittance of 88 percent.
- Acrylic can be polished to restore its clarity, while polycarbonate cannot.
- The edges of acrylic can be polished smooth if necessary; polycarbonate cannot be polished.
- Gluing with cements designed for acrylic and polycarbonate, acrylic gives a cleaner glue joint than polycarbonate.
- Both acrylic and polycarbonate are easy to clean. The best choice for cleaning is a microfibre or 100-percent cotton cloths.
- Acrylic has a low chemical resistance and needs more specific cleaners. When cleaning acrylic, it is best to use only mild soap and water or a plastic cleaner
- Polycarbonate has a higher chemical resistance than acrylic; it can be cleaned by harsher cleaners containing chemicals such as ammonia.
- Neither plastic should be cleaned with solvents.
- Both acrylic and polycarbonate are weather resistant and expand and contract with temperature changes without long-term or permanent shrinkage.
- Both acrylic and polycarbonate can scratch, so wool rags and paper towels, which are made from abrasive binding agents, should be avoided.
- Acrylic is more likely to chip than polycarbonate because it is less impact-resistant. It does not scratch easily, however, and will not yellow over time.
- Polycarbonate has low flammability, while acrylic will burn slowly and is not recommended in areas where flames may be present.
- Polycarbonate is more expensive than acrylic. It tends to cost about 35% more for the material.
Recycling of acrylics and polycarbonates:
- According to the Society of the Plastics Industry’s recycling chart, both materials fall in the “seven” category. This means they are considered more permanent materials that are better suited for re-use than recycling and usually are accepted in most municipal recycling programs.
In the end, the material choice for any given project will be determined by a number of factors, including but not limited to appearance, performance, durability, cost and availability. If it’s acrylic or polycarbonate, there are plenty of knowledgeable resources online and among the many distributors supplying the sign industry.