Display and Signage Material Guide: Polycarbonate

When building a new display, you have plenty of options for materials. Some work well in certain environments, others are great for low-budget projects. Each of them has their own list of benefits and drawbacks to usage.

One of the primary options for retail, medical, and industrial applications is polycarbonate, which is a great material when extreme durability or heavy protection is needed.

What is Polycarbonate?

Polycarbonate is a clear, glass-like material that has a similar appearance to PETG or acrylic but is far more durable and resistant to breaking and cracking. The material is a thermoplastic polymer that offers high transparency and protection. The material is typically available in .118, .177 .220, .375 and .500 thicknesses, but other gauges are available on demand. Polycarbonate can be the source in basic solar colors but is most used as a clear material. Lexan and Tuffak are common brand names that polycarbonate is also referred to as.

Why is Polycarbonate Used?

Because of its high tensile strength, impact and shatter resistance, and transparent appearance, polycarbonate is often used as a glass replacement for many applications. It is one of the most durable display materials on the market, making it ideal for displays and fixtures that will be subject to a lot of wear and tear, or used in heavily trafficked areas.

Polycarbonate is also very fabrication friendly. The material can be bent, solvent welded, and machined into shapes for custom displays. However, due the material’s density, the fabrication process is more complex and takes longer than acrylic or PETG.

The benefits of using polycarbonate include:

  • Outstanding toughness and impact strength
  • UV stabilized
  • Optical clarity
  • Chemical resistance
  • Abrasion resistance when abrasion-resistant coating is applied

Polycarbonate Applications

Polycarbonate is used when high impact resistance is required, which is why it’s often used in industrial and medical applications (i.e., safety shields, viewing windows, safety glasses, and windows). In retail environments, it can be a suitable material for:

The Drawbacks of Polycarbonate

The primary drawback of using polycarbonate for POP displays and store fixtures is its cost. It is the most expensive material compared to our other clear materials, such as acrylic or PETG, both for the raw material and additional fabrication time. If you’re looking for a material with extreme durability, polycarbonate is an excellent solution.

 

Thinking about using polycarbonate for your retail displays? We can help you determine if it’s the best material option for your application. Get in touch with our design experts to talk about your next display project.

 

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