When looking at polycarbonate roof sheeting vs acrylic roof sheeting, you will notice there are a number of different characteristics.
Similar in appearance and the most frequently used transparent plastic materials on the market, it’s easy to see why these two are compared to one another.
Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages, but an advantage shared by both is that they weigh less than half of a sheet of glass in the same size, yet are much stronger than glass.
There are several tradenames used to market acrylic plastic. These names include:
Plexiglas in particular is used interchangeably with “acrylic plastic” because they both form an acrylic plastic. However, they do have slightly different characteristics.
Sometimes referred to as Lexan or Makrolon. The most notable difference between polycarbonate and acrylic plastic is the price.
Polycarbonate roof sheeting can cost around 35% more than acrylic sheets.
Both of these are referred to as polymers which is a material made from different molecules which have been linked together to form long chains.
The specific types of molecules used to produce each of these plastics result in them looking, feeling and acting differently. This is also due to the way in which the molecules are put together.
The process used to create these plastics is called polymerization.
To put it simply, polycarbonate results from the reaction between phosgene COCI2 and bisphenol A.
Acrylic is made by synthesizing methyl methacrylate which is produced from the reaction between acetone and sodium cyanide which then creates acetone cyanohydrin.
Methyl alcohol is then added to the acetone cyanohydrin to produce methyl methacrylate.
Although there is a variety of ways that acrylic and polycarbonate can be formed, these are the most commonly used methods.
The methods used differ when other factors are required such as UV-filtering, anti-static, non-glare or colour.
Extrusion, blow moulding, thermoforming and injection moulding are all ways in which polycarbonate roof sheeting can be processed and manufactured.
The most widely used method is extrusion.
The process begins with polycarbonate pellets being fed into an extruder. The pellets are then melted to the correct temperature.
The melted polycarbonate is then pushed through a die which has been specially shaped to produce flat sheets.
These flat sheets are shaped into various lengths, thicknesses and widths with uniform cross-sections.
The polycarbonate sheet can be produced with high or low glosses, textured or smooth surfaces, colours and in single or multiple layers during this process.
Once the sheets have been extruded, they can then be processed further in order to achieve a more specifically defined final product.
Methyl methacrylate and organic peroxide are poured into a mould which is then sealed and heated.
This process is known as bulk polymerization and produces the reaction that results in the formation of acrylic plastic polymer.
The moulded acrylic sheets are then cured in up to 12 hours. However, thicker sheets can require several days to cure properly.
The moulds are cooled and when opened, produce acrylic plastic sheets with can either be used immediately or can be processed further for a better-quality final product.
Another method to create acrylic plastic sheets is called batch cell and is the most common form of bulk polymerization due to its diverse range of application.
However, bulk polymerization is a quicker and less labour-intensive method.
Coloured & Fluorescent
UV Filtering & Transmitting
Anti-static & Non-glare
Black & white
Both polycarbonate and acrylic sheets have similar options to choose from, yet they are still vastly different due to their physical and chemical make-up.
Therefore, choosing the right sheet for you depends completely on the desired application.
Acrylic sheets are best for clarity and light transmittance while polycarbonates are the best choice for high-impact resistance.
Point of purchase displays
Animal & reptile enclosures
Spectator protection for ice hockey rinks
Residential and commercial aquariums
Reusable drinking bottles
Police vehicles for riot control
Diffusers for light pipes for LEDs
Interior layer of storm window linings
Medical technologies and implants
We are proud suppliers of Modek roof sheeting which is the leading manufacturer of transparent polycarbonate roof sheeting in Africa.
Contact us for all your roof sheeting needs.
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