Why Polycarbonate Is Better Than Glass
When we think about glazing, it is normally glass that springs to mind. After all, glass is a material that has been brightening up our lives for centuries.
However, we are all aware of the shortcomings of glass. It is brittle, heavy, difficult to work with, and expensive.
Polycarbonate sheeting has none of these drawbacks and is a versatile and practical choice for many uses that have traditionally relied on glass.
What is Polycarbonate?
Polycarbonate is a thermoplastic material that has transparent properties that, in many instances, outperforms glass.
Amongst its many beneficial properties are its superior durability, low-moisture absorption, and transparency when compared to glass. This already gives Polycarbonate a good edge over glass, but it gets better - When compared head-to-head with glass, Polycarbonate offers greater flexibility, higher impact resistance, better insulating properties, higher flame & heat resistance, and is lighter overall.
Polycarbonate sheet is also easier to work with than glass. With suitable adhesives, it bonds easily with most common surfaces. It is flexible and can be easily painted.
What can Polycarbonate be used for?
This is an incredibly versatile material that can be used instead of glass in virtually any application. Amongst its common uses are:
- Greenhouses and other garden uses
- Windows and skylights
- Wall cladding
- Safety guards
- Sign facings
The Benefits of Polycarbonate
There are a huge number of benefits of Polycarbonate when compared to glass. Some of these have already been touched on. This section takes a more detailed look at these and a few of the other major benefits.
Polycarbonate is Incredibly Strong
Just how strong is Polycarbonate? The figures speak for themselves - when compared to glass panels, Polycarbonate has 250 times the impact resistance properties. Even when compared to other plastics like acrylic, Polycarbonate is 60 times stronger.
This excellent strength-to-weight ratio is why Polycarbonate is a great option for greenhouses and skylights. But is also the reason that it has become incredibly popular for uses like spectacles, bullet-resistant windows, and even police shields.
For practical everyday uses like greenhouses, the virtually unbreakable nature of Polycarbonate makes it the obvious choice.
The strength of Polycarbonate also plays a big part in its overall durability. But that isn’t the end of the matter.
Polycarbonate is highly UV resistant and is tough enough to stand up to the rigours of even the harshest conditions. For buildings with dozens if not hundreds of windows, the cost savings of not having to constantly maintain glass windows can be substantial.
One of the major advantages that Polycarbonate has over traditional glass is its far superior heat resistance. Traditional glass does not handle heat well; however, Polycarbonate has incredible heat resistance properties.
As an example, Polycarbonate can easily resist prolonged exposure to temperatures of 270° C, easily coping with such high heat for periods of several hours. It is also capable of withstanding blasts of heat of over 1100° C without warping or breaking.
These days with rising energy costs and a requirement to cut our carbon footprint, insulating our properties properly is essential. Once again, traditional glass can’t match the insulating properties of Polycarbonate.
When comparing like-for-like, Glass v Polycarbonate, then on average, Polycarbonate outperforms glass by up to 20%.
Ease of Installation
When compared to traditional glass panels, Polycarbonate is around six times lighter. This makes the material easier to handle during installation and also quicker to install.
It is also easier to cut than glass, which makes it far more convenient to work with. Finally, Polycarbonate can also be slightly flexed when fitting, which makes fitting on slightly curved surfaces a lot simpler.
All these benefits would mean nothing if Polycarbonate didn’t perform its primary function well. But it does! Polycarbonate can filter out harsh lighting, act as a sunshade, and diffuse direct sunlight over a wider area.
Glass has served us well for centuries but had never met its match before. With the remarkable properties of Polycarbonate outperforming glass in so many areas, it could be that the age of glass is drawing to a close.