What Is The Best Thickness For Polycarbonate?

Polycarbonate is a versatile and durable thermoplastic material known for its high impact resistance, excellent transparency, and lightweight properties. When using polycarbonate for various applications, it’s essential to select the right thickness to ensure the material performs well and meets the specific requirements of the project. This article will provide an overview of polycarbonate and discuss the importance of choosing the correct thickness for your needs.

Factors Affecting Polycarbonate Thickness Selection

Selecting the appropriate thickness for polycarbonate depends on several factors that influence its performance in a given application. Here are some key factors to consider when choosing the right polycarbonate thickness, along with some numerical examples for better understanding:

Application and intended use: For glazing applications, 2-3mm sheets may suffice, while roofing or protective barriers could require thicknesses ranging from 8mm to 12mm or more, depending on the specific needs.

Load-bearing capacity: A 6mm polycarbonate sheet can typically withstand a uniformly distributed load of approximately 100 kg/m², while a 10mm sheet can support around 150 kg/m². Thicker sheets will offer better load-bearing capacity for applications where increased strength is necessary.

Environmental conditions: In regions with heavy snow loads, a minimum thickness of 10mm is recommended for roofing applications to provide adequate support and insulation. For areas with high wind loads, a thickness of 6mm or more may be necessary to ensure stability.

Impact resistance requirements: A 4mm polycarbonate sheet has an impact strength of around 850 J/m, while a 12mm sheet offers around 2,100 J/m. Thicker sheets provide greater impact resistance for situations where additional protection is needed.

Aesthetics and light transmission: A 2mm polycarbonate sheet allows approximately 88% light transmission, while a 6mm sheet offers around 82%, and a 12mm sheet offers approximately 75%. Thinner sheets generally provide better light transmission, while thicker sheets may have a more substantial appearance.

Common Thicknesses and Applications of Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate sheets come in various thicknesses to suit different applications. Here are some common thicknesses and their typical uses, along with some numerical information for better understanding.

Thickness CategoryApplications & ParametersReasons
Thin polycarbonate sheets (1-3mm)1. Glazing applications: 2mmProvides improved insulation and noise reduction while maintaining good light transmission.
 2. Greenhouse panels: 3mmOffers excellent light transmission, UV protection, and is lightweight for easy installation.
 3. Picture frames: 1-2mmThin and lightweight, ideal for preserving artwork and providing UV protection.
 4. Light covers: 2-3mmAllows for adequate light transmission while offering some protection from impact.
Medium-thickness polycarbonate sheets (4-6mm)1. Skylights and canopies: 4mmBalances strength, light transmission, and UV resistance for suitable outdoor applications.
 2. Machine guards and safety barriers: 6mmProvides increased impact resistance and durability to protect workers and equipment.
 3. Greenhouse and sunroom roofing: 4-6mmOffers a balance of light transmission, insulation, and strength for structural support.
 4. Signage and displays: 4-6mmProvides good visibility, durability, and weather resistance for indoor and outdoor use.
Thick polycarbonate sheets (8-12mm or more)1. Roofing panels: 8-10mmProvides strength, insulation, and weather resistance for long-lasting performance.
 2. Bulletproof glass: 12mm or thickerOffers superior impact resistance and protection for high-security applications.
 3. Riot shields and safety helmets: 8-12mmProvides a high level of impact resistance for personal protection in extreme situations.
 4. Aquarium and zoo enclosures: 10-12mm or thickerEnsures the safety and well-being of animals and visitors, while offering excellent visibility.

It’s essential to evaluate the specific requirements of your project and consult industry standards or experts to determine the most suitable thickness for your needs. By considering factors such as application, load-bearing capacity, environmental conditions, impact resistance, and aesthetics, you can make an informed decision about the best polycarbonate thickness for your project.

Guidelines for Choosing the Right Thickness of Polycarbonate

To further clarify the process of selecting the right polycarbonate thickness, here are some frequently asked questions and their answers:

A: Begin by evaluating the specific needs and requirements of your project, such as load-bearing capacity, impact resistance, and environmental factors. This will help you narrow down suitable thickness options. Additionally, consult experts or industry guidelines for further guidance.

A: Yes, if your project doesn’t demand high impact resistance or load-bearing capacity, a thinner sheet may be suitable. However, ensure that it still meets any relevant safety and performance requirements for your specific application.

A: Assess the importance of factors like strength, durability, and light transmission for your project, and weigh them against the additional expense of using a thicker sheet. Consider whether the extra cost is justified by the increased performance or whether a thinner sheet would suffice.

A: Industry standards can vary depending on the application and region. It’s best to consult professionals, manufacturers, or industry guidelines to ensure you’re selecting the correct thickness for your specific application.

By considering these FAQs and guidelines, you’ll be better equipped to choose the right polycarbonate thickness for your project, ensuring optimal performance, longevity, and cost-effectiveness.


Selecting the right polycarbonate thickness is crucial for the success of your project, as it directly impacts the material’s performance, durability, and cost-effectiveness. By carefully evaluating the specific needs and requirements of your application, consulting industry standards, and considering factors such as load-bearing capacity, impact resistance, and environmental conditions, you can make an informed decision and choose the most suitable polycarbonate thickness. Remember to reach out to experts or manufacturers for guidance and clarification if needed, as their expertise can help you avoid potential issues and ensure the long-term success of your project.

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