Acrylic and polycarbonate are often recognised as direct competitors, due to their similar appearance and both being a popular choice of the material when it comes to manufacturing domes.
You may find yourself wondering, how can you pick between the two materials when at first glance they are so difficult to differentiate? It’s quite easy in fact, the characteristics of acrylic and polycarbonate are both quite different and the decision between using either material largely comes down to which is more suitable for your purpose, rather than which is the ‘better’ form of plastic.
Polycarbonate and acrylic are both types of plastic, and as you probably guessed, both are impressively resistant to forceful impacts. Apart from being compared to each other, these forms of plastic are often compared to glass. When it comes to damage resistance, acrylic and polycarbonate come out on top every time. Both Acrylic and polycarbonate are impressively resistant to impact, dealing with forceful blows that would reduce glass domes to hundreds of shards.
However, this blog is not a comparison with glass but between the two plastic rivals themselves, and if a decision had to be made regarding which was the most damage resistant, polycarbonate emerges as the victor. Polycarbonate can resist over thirty times the impact that glass can, whereas acrylic boasts between ten and twenty-four times the resistance of glass. Despite the strength of acrylic, polycarbonate still reigns supreme as the most damage resistant of the two dome choices.
Therefore, if you’re expecting your dome to encounter forceful impact throughout its lifespan, polycarbonate domes may be the choice for you.
If the colour, and more important, a varying number of colours is of primary importance to your plastic dome, acrylic domes are a stand out winner over their competitor polycarbonate. Acrylic is available in an astonishingly varied colour pallet, whereas the colour options for polycarbonate domes are much more limited and mainly available in clear and opal.
Another reason acrylic domes comfortably win the colour category is the long-lasting clarity that acrylic maintains regardless of its location. On the other hand, when exposed to UV rays for prolonged periods of time, the colouring on polycarbonate domes can diminish and develop a yellow hue if not a UV stable grade of polycarbonate.
For that reason, if your plastic dome is intended to remain outdoors for long periods of time then acrylic is likely to be the best material to use for your dome.
Maintaining the cleanliness of both polycarbonate domes and acrylic domes can pose some difficulty, knowing the correct methods and equipment essential to the upkeep of both materials. Of the two, polycarbonate domes are more likely to succumb to scratches. Due to this, when cleaning polycarbonate domes, rough sponges or brushes should be avoided where possible, as well as abrasive cleaning solutions. Although acrylic is more resistant to scratches, these methods of cleaning should also be avoided to stay on the safe side. Both plastic solutions can be sufficiently cleaned with ordinary soap and warm water.
Worth noting is that neither plastic acrylic or polycarbonate is not as resistant to harsher chemicals when compared to glass and only glass cleaners should be used to clean them. Solvents and abrasive cleaners will damage the surface of both acrylic and polycarbonate domes.
Once damaged has been inflicted upon polycarbonate domes, it is difficult to rectify whereas acrylic domes can recover from minor scratches for little to no expense or effort.
When new, the difference in transparency is difficult to distinguish with acrylic marginally the clearer. However, as time passes, if your plastic dome is outdoors, the yellow hue that unprotected polycarbonate domes develop over several years will seriously hinder its transparency. Also, as both materials slightly lose their transparency over time, acrylic can be polished to regain its clarity whereas this is not possible with polycarbonate.
One characteristic that is likely to be rather important to you is the price of the two materials in question, and the answer may surprise you. Polycarbonate is usually much more expensive than the alternative acrylic. Polycarbonate can even be up to three times more expensive when compared to acrylic.
From the several categories discussed above, you can see that each of these plastics have both advantages and disadvantages to their use. The properties that acrylic carries make it more naturally suited to be used for camera domes and similar devices and applications. Acrylics noticeably impressive optics coupled with its hardness and relatively low cost make it the perfect material. On the other hand, polycarbonate is more suited for differing applications. Its impact absorbent properties make it the ideal solution for playground domes and other highly abused domes.
Both acrylic and polycarbonate can also be used for a variety of other purposes and are not exclusive to the uses discussed in this blog post. If you have a query regarding the acrylic domes or polycarbonate domes contact an expert at Talbot Designs today on +020 8346 8515