Polycarbonate products offer a unique balance of useful features including temperature resistance, impact resistance and optical properties position polycarbonates in between commodity plastics and engineering materials.
Polycarbonate is definitely a tough material. Even though it offers significant impact-resistance, it possesses reduced scratch-resistance and so a hard coating could be applied to polycarbonate eye protection lenses as well as polycarbonate exterior automotive components. The properties associated with polycarbonate tend to be comparable to those of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA, acrylic), except polycarbonate is undoubtedly stronger, it is usable in a wider temperature range and is a bit more expensive. This plastic polymer is highly transparent to visible light and it has better light transmission characteristics than many kinds of glass.
Polycarbonate has a glass transition temperature of about 150 °C (302 °F), therefore it softens gradually above this point and flows above about 300°C (572 °F). Tools need to be held at high temperatures, generally above 80 °C (176 °F) to make strain- and reduced stress products.
Unlike most other thermoplastics, polycarbonate can undergo dramatic deformations without breaking or cracking. Subsequently, it is sometimes processed and formed cold using standard sheet metal techniques, for instance forming bends with a brake. Even for sharp angle bends with a tight radius, no heating is generally necessary. This makes it valuable in prototyping applications where transparent or electrically non-conductive parts are important, which should not be created from sheet metal. Please keep in mind PMMA/Plexiglas, which happens to be similar in appearance to polycarbonate, but is brittle and can’t be bent unless it is heated.
The light weight of polycarbonate, unlike glass, has led to continuing development of electronic display screens that replace glass with polycarbonate, for use in mobile and portable devices. Such displays include newer e-ink and some LCD screens, though CRT, plasma screen and other LCD technologies which still require glass for its higher melting temperature and its ability to be etched in finer detail.
Other miscellaneous items created from Polycarbonate include durable, lightweight luggage, MP3/digital audio player cases, computer cases, police riot shields, instrument panels, and blender jars. Many toys and hobby items are constructed from polycarbonate parts, e.g. fins, gyro mounts, and flybar locks for use with radio-controlled helicopters.
For use in applications subjected to weathering or UV-radiation, a special surface treatment maybe needed. This may be a coating (e.g. for improved abrasion resistance), or a coextrusion for enhanced weathering resistance.
The Makrolon Polycarbonate is a thermoplastic that begins as a solid plastic material in the form of small pellets. In a manufacturing process called injection molding, this pellet material is heated until they melt. This liquid polycarbonate is then rapidly injected into a mold with the empty part being the size and shape of the part you want, compressed under high pressure and cooled to form a finished product in a matter of minutes.