How To Tell Acrylic From Polycarbonate?

Acrylic and polycarbonate are plastic materials that are widely used in lots of applications in wide industry. Acrylic is less expensive and stands up better to exposure to weather and sunlight than polycarbonate. Polycarbonate, however, is much more impact resistant and nearly impossible to shatter.

The two plastics seem very similar at first, difficult to distinguish them but there are very important differences that make it necessary to use the correct material for your project. There are several ways to determine if your plastic is acrylic or polycarbonate. In this article, we will show you some skills to tell acrylic from polycarbonate.

Further Reading

Visual check

Put these two material sheets in natural light, While Acrylic and Polycarbonate appear clear on the surface, you will notice the edge of the Polycarbonate looks blue, while the Acrylic is clear. This is because in the formulation of Polycarbonate, a bluing agent is used.

Attempt to flex the plastic

Under normal temperatures, acrylic is not flexible. Polycarbonate is slightly bendable in most thicknesses under 1 inch.

Check for Clarity

For the product already used a long time, Acrylic is still clear while Polycarbonate yellows overtime when exposed to sunlight, Any yellowing indicates the plastic is polycarbonate.

Apply high heat to a section of the plastic with a MAPP torch. If the plastic immediately clears like it has been polished, it is acrylic. Do not hold the heat in one place for more than a few seconds, because it can damage the plastic.


Scrape a sharp metal object against an inconspicuous area of the plastic. The polycarbonate will scratch much easier than the acrylic. If it scratches easily, it's polycarbonate

Hitting by a hammer

Hang a corner of the plastic off of a table and press on the opposite side with your hand. Strike the corner with a hammer. If it shatters or cracks, the material is acrylic. If it flexes and remains solid, it is polycarbonate.


Acrylic easy to crack when being drilled near the edge while Polycarbonate does not break even if drilled close to the border with a standard drill bit.


acrylic burning creaking, not smoking, fire can be pulled out of the filament. While Polycarbonate cannot burn up, black smoke.


Normally, if you tried the methods above, you will find out which is Acrylic or polycarbonate, because of the different property of them. KUSLA provides High-quality plastic sheets which could be 100% reliable.

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