Comparing Between Acrylic and Polycarbonate

Acrylic(plexigalss) and polycarbonate(lexan) plastics are oftentimes compared to one another because they are similar in appearance and the most frequently utilized see-through plastic materials on the market. They have lots of similarities and differences. Generally speaking, acrylic product is shinier and polycarbonate product is stronger. they both weigh less than half of glass and they are both much stronger than glass. In this blog you will see the difference between Acrylic and Polycarbonate from different aspects.

Acrylic VS Polycarbonate – Typical Physical Properties

Specific gravity D7921.191.2
Light transmittance%D10039286
Tensile elongation %D6384.5135
Heat deflection temperature°FD648195280
Maximum continuous service temperature in air°F 160240
Flexural strengthpsiD79017,00013,500
Tensile strengthpsiD63810,0009,500
Tensile modulus of elasticity psiD638400,000345,000
Flexural modulus of elasticity psiD790480,000345,000
Compressive strengthpsiD69517,00012,500
Izod impactft-lbs/inD2560.412.0 – 16.0
Coefficient of linear thermal expansionin/in/°Fx10-5D69643.8
Dialectic strengthV/milD149430380
Water absorption (immersion 24 hours)%D5700.20.15
shrinkage rate% 0.2% to 0.5%0.5 to 0.7%

Acrylic VS Polycarbonate – General characteristics

Strength17 times impact resistance of glass250 times impact resistance of glass
Clarity92% light transmittance – Better clarity than glass88% light transmittance
Chemical ResistanceLow – should only be cleaned with plastic cleanersHigher than acrylic- can be cleaned with products containing ammonia. Resistant to gasoline and acids.
CostLess expensive than PolycarbonateMore expensive material – cost difference can range based on thickness
Requires heat to shapeyesno
Weightless than half of glassless than half of glass
dimensional stabilityGoodGood
Cleaningeasy to cleaneasy to clean

Acrylic VS Polycarbonate – Machinability

MachinabilityEasier to machine than polycarbonateEasy to machine
CuttingCan be cut with conventional tools – Easier to cut, but there is a higher risk of cracking material.Can be cut with conventional tools – Fights the initial push of a saw or router
thermoformingEasy to thermoformEasy to thermoform
DrillingWill crack if it is near the edge. Need a plastic specific drill bit.Typically, does not crack when drilling near the edge. Can use regular drill bits.
BondingCleaner glue joint than PolycarbonateCan be glued, but the joint will not be as clean as acrylic
BendingHeat bendingCold bending/ cold forming
PolishingCan be polishedCannot be polished, only buffed
Cold-formnot recommendedyes
Cut, drill with standard toolsyesnot recommended

Acrylic VS Polycarbonate- Applications

ApplicationAcrylicPolycarbonateWhy to choose
Indoor signs Acrylic has low cost
outdoor signs Acrylic has better Durability
Furniture Acrylic has better Clarity
Shelves and retail fixtures Acrylic has better Clarity
Brochure holders Acrylic has better Clarity
Machine guards Polycarbonate has better impact resistance 
Face shields Polycarbonate has better impact resistance 
Riot shields Polycarbonate has better impact resistance 
Headlamp lens Polycarbonate has higher thermal resistance

How to Choose between Acrylic and Polycarbonate  

There are several key factors to consider when evaluating polycarbonate vs acrylic for your commercial project. Here are 6 factors to be considered during design.


polycarbonate is stronger than acrylic. Less rigid and able to withstand temperature changes without breaking, compared to traditional glass, polycarbonate sheets are up to 250x stronger, while acrylic is only 17x. if your product requires a Higher strength, polycarbonate will be your choice.


To the naked eye, polycarbonate and acrylic both appear to boast the same clarity for glass alternatives for windows. However, Acrylic has a better Light transmittance than polycarbonate, if your product requires a strict optic requirement, high light intensity, then Acrylic will be a better choice for your project.  

Surface damage resistance 

Considering the environment of your product goanna to be used, if your product is easy to touch other objects which may cause scratches on your product, then Acrylic will be your choice due to its better Scratch resistance performance than polycarbonate. Polycarbonate products are more likely to fall victim to scratches that can’t be buffed out. On the other hand, acrylics are more adaptable to chips or even cracks when subjected to strong impacts. But anyway, if you still want to use polycarbonate, then hard coating on polycarbonate will be Alternative solution.

Durability against the elements 

For indoor use, both materials stand up to whatever their intended uses are. you can choose both of them

For outdoor use, acrylic fares better against exposure to the sun. Because of acrylic’s chemical composition, it’s resistant to UV rays and doesn’t warp or discolor as easily. Polycarbonate, however, need additional protection from the sun’s rays — usually, a thin layer of a UV ray-resistant coating is applied to both sides of the material or they’ll yellow after prolonged exposure to the sun.  


Take sheet as example, polycarbonate sheets are easier to work with than acrylic sheets — but not in the sense you might think. 

Because polycarbonate sheets are stronger, they are better suited for fabrication than acrylics. Whether cut, drilled, or shaped, polycarbonate is less likely to break, though it does take more effort and skill to fabricate. Acrylic is comparative weakness, however, does make the material easier to form. In simplest terms, acrylic sheets won’t lose integrity or strength after being heated and molded into a shape. So you need to choose the material according to your machining process method.


Because of its strength, durability, and extra effort required during fabrication, polycarbonate costs more. Those factors contribute to its higher cost. Acrylic is more prone to breaking. It’s a cheaper alternative to glass that is easier on your budget to use.


After you read above-mentioned comparison, you would be able to make a decision between the two materials for applications across varied sectors now.. KUSLA has a rich experience with these two materials and provide Acrylic and Polycarbonate sheets, rods