There are a lot of different types of plastic on the market. When you need plastic to meet a specific need for transparency and light transmission, you may wonder what's the best plastic to choose.
The short answer is a transparent plastic sheet made from acrylic or polycarbonate.
Each has its particular strengths.
Just the same, it's a good idea to understand why acrylic and polycarbonate are considered the best clear plastics available and what advantages they bring to your manufacturing project.
When superior clarity and strength are required, acrylic sheet, often known as plexiglass or by brand names like Plexiglas® and Optix®, makes an excellent alternative to glass.
Because acrylic is a thermoplastic, it can be quickly melted down, injection molded, and later reheated without losing quality. Because it is resistant to scuffs, abrasions, and yellowing, acrylic provides the best level of clarity for the most extended period compared to all other plastics. In addition, acrylic offers UV protection, making it a popular plastic choice for photo framing, advertising displays, and similar uses.
- Excellent light transmission and optical clarity. Acrylic won't turn yellow with prolonged sun exposure
- Excellent weather resistance
- Lightweight. Acrylic weighs only 50% as much as glass
- Extra safety and shatter resistance
- Resistance to a wide range of substances, including ammonia, weak acids, and aliphatic hydrocarbons
Polycarbonate sheets are the best option when it comes to impact strength. This all-purpose thermoplastic is around 200 times stronger than glass and and 10 times stronger than acrylic. Additionally, polycarbonate sheets have a superior impact strength compared to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). As a result, this rigid plastic serves as excellent protection from theft and vandalism while lowering the danger of glass-related injuries.
Among its more notable features are:
- 50% the weight of glass
- Excellent clarity and light transmission
- High impact resistance
- Can come with a one or two-sided UV protective layer
- High flame resistance
- Can be pressure formed and is practically unbreakable
- Easy to machine, handle, and install
Essentially, acrylic and polycarbonate come out about even in terms of advantages. The choice comes down to the project at hand and what its specific needs are.
Of the types of transparent plastic sheet available, acrylic is the clearest, but when it comes to pure strength, polycarbonate comes ahead compared to clear acrylic sheet of the same thickness. Therefore, the thickness can be an essential factor when selecting a suitable material for the job.
What Is the Best Thickness For Plastic Sheeting?
For jobs like covering objects during a remodel, building and construction enclosures, cleanup coverings, temporary walls, greenhouse covers, and even erosion control, 6 mm plastic sheeting is typically an excellent thickness choice. This type of clear plastic sheeting performs admirably both inside and outside.
For tasks like garbage or landfill liners, foundation wall vapor retarders, outdoor storage coverings, and aquaponics liners, 20 mm plastic sheeting is frequently utilized. Due to its highly durable strength, the 20 mm sheet is excellent for heavy-duty construction and agricultural use indoors and outdoors.
In general, clear plastic sheeting is available in multiple thicknesses. It also often comes with UV stabilizers for short- to mid-term outdoor use and holds up exceptionally well to a wide range of extreme outdoor temperatures.
Uses For Clear Plastic Sheet
Examples of the many uses for clear plastic include display items, security and health barriers, eyewear, costume jewelry, medical tools and devices, LCD panels, picture frames, toys, and furniture. In addition, clear plastic sheets' numerous qualities and advantages make them well-suited for use in various industries, such as building, glazing, retail, machining, plastic manufacturing, recreation, signs, and more.
Acrylic clear plastic sheets are used frequently for windows, fish tanks, and enclosures around displays since they are even clearer than glass.
Purchasing Clear Plastic Sheet
At Piedmont Plastics, we specialize in transparent materials like acrylic and polycarbonate sheet. Our team of passionate plastics specialists is perfectly equipped to offer answers to any manufacturing need.
For over 50 years, Piedmont Plastics has served industries including aerospace, petrochemical, food production and packaging, marine, industrial, vehicle manufacture, signs, graphics, medical, and more. Piedmont Plastics has over 50 distribution centers throughout North America. Piedmont Plastics is perfectly positioned to help with any production solution. Contact us today to learn more.