Perspex vs. Polycarbonate – Which one is better?

What is Perspex?

Perspex is a brand name for polymethyl methacrylate – or acrylate for short – and is also called Perspex or Altuglas in addition to Perspex. Acrylic is a type of plastic that softens when heated, so it can easily be made into all kinds of shapes. Perspex is transparent and therefore looks very much like glass. The advantages and disadvantages of perspex are listed below.

Advantages perspex

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to process
  • Allows a lot of light
  • Impact resistant
  • Easily recyclable

Disadvantages perspex

  • Not heat resistant
  • Scratch sensitive

A major advantage of perspex is that it weighs much less than glass and therefore offers great weight savings. Also, this material is easy to work with and therefore can be used for many different applications. Furthermore, perspex allows approximately 90 percent light through and can therefore be used instead of glass. Perspex is also impact resistant, when it breaks it does not shatter like normal glass does. Perspex is also easy to recycle, which means the material can be used later for other applications.

The disadvantages of perspex are the flammability of the material. It is not heat resistant and when exposed to fire it can burn. Also, perspex is more susceptible to scratches and can only withstand a slightly abrasive load.

What is polycarbonate?

Polycarbonate is a thermoplastic, which means it softens when heated. Polycarbonate is sturdy, transparent and can also withstand high temperatures. Like perspex, it is easy to use and can be used for many applications.

Benefits of Polycarbonate

  • Strong
  • Lightweight
  • Heat resistant
  • Easy to process

Disadvantages Polycarbonate

  • Scratch sensitive
  • Can expand
  • Allows less light

A sheet of polycarbonate is much stronger than a sheet of glass and is almost impossible to break, for example, it is estimated that polycarbonate is 250 times stronger than a sheet of glass. Despite its strength, polycarbonate is also lighter in weight than glass. Furthermore, it can withstand high temperatures and is therefore less flammable than perspex. Also, a lot is possible with this material and it is easy to work with when melted.

A disadvantage of this material is its susceptibility to scratching, the chance of scratches is high and therefore extra care should be taken with this material. Also, polycarbonate can expand when the temperature rises. Finally, the light transmission of polycarbonate sheets is less compared to perspex and normal glass.

Which is better?

Now that the pros and cons of acrylic (perspex) and polycarbonate are clear, it’s up to you to make a choice. Both materials can be used for many different purposes and are easy to work with. Perspex has an extra high transparency, is lightweight and is also easy to recycle. Polycarbonate, on the other hand, is immensely strong and safe and would therefore be good to use as safety glass.