An Overview of Polycarbonate – Prospector Knowledge Center

Polycarbonate is a new fashion material that plays an important role in many fields. Maybe some people don’t know much about this new type of material. This overview will enhance your understanding of polycarbonate from many angles.

What is polycarbonate?

Polycarbonate (PC), an amorphous, transparent thermoplastic polymer, which is odorless and non-toxic. It has excellent heat resistance, good transparency, high impact resistance and other physical and mechanical properties. Polycarbonate is a kind of engineering plastic with excellent properties, such as high transmittance, refractive index and easy machining.

What are the characteristics of polycarbonate?

Polycarbonates are strong, tough, transparent engineering thermoplastics with high impact strength of 600 to 900J/m, heat distortion temperature of 130℃ and flexural modulus of 2400MPa and other characteristics. Details are as follows.

Mechanical properties

Polycarbonate has excellent mechanical properties, and its outstanding characteristic is high impact strength, which ranks among the best thermoplastic resins. Small creep, good dimensional stability, can still maintain high mechanical strength at low temperatures.

Thermal performance

Polycarbonate has good heat resistance, long-term use temperature up to 120℃, but also has excellent cold resistance, an embrittlement temperature of -100℃. Polycarbonate has no obvious melting point and is molten at 220-230℃.

Polycarbonate has good heat resistance, long-term use temperature up to 120℃, but also has excellent cold resistance, an embrittlement temperature of -100℃. Polycarbonate has no obvious melting point and is molten at 220-230℃.

Electrical properties

Polycarbonate has excellent electrical properties due to its low polarity, high glass transition temperature and low water absorption.

Chemical resistance

Polycarbonate is stable in acidic and oily media, but it is not alkali resistant. Long-term immersion in boiling water is easy to cause hydrolysis and cracking.

Aging Performance

Under the action of ultraviolet light with the wavelength of 290nm, polycarbonate will undergo photooxidation reaction and gradually age. Aging begins with surface yellowing, which leads to the decrease of molecular weight and mechanical strength due to the fracture of the branch main chain, and finally cracking. Therefore, it is usually necessary to add UV absorbent to improve the anti-aging properties of polycarbonate.

add UV absorbent to improve the anti-aging properties of polycarbonate.

Forming Characteristics

Polycarbonate has excellent processing properties. In the viscous flow state, it can be molded by injection, extrusion and other methods. The glass transition temperature and melting temperature (170-220℃), can be used to blow molding process. At room temperature, polycarbonate has a considerable impact strength, so it can be cold pressing, cold drawing and another cold forming process.

What are the different types of polycarbonate?

The variety of ways polycarbonate can be created is virtually limitless thanks to its flexible nature. Just a few of the different types of polycarbonate include:

  • Clear polycarbonate
  • Abrasion-Resistant polycarbonate
  • Mirrored polycarbonate
  • Bulletproof polycarbonate
  • Colored/tinted polycarbonate

Is polycarbonate toxic?

Most polycarbonate plastics in use today are non-toxic.

It is generally accepted that non-food grade polycarbonate releases bisphenol A (BPA) during degradation when in contact with water. In the past, most polycarbonates were indeed synthesized from bisphenol A and COCl2. However, due to the toxic effects of BPA release (in 2010 Canada became the first country to ban bisphenol A because of the potential for harm to the body after the European Union linked it to precious puberty. The European Union did the same in March 2011), many polycarbonates are now made into BPA-free products, so they can be used in food or industry.

polycarbonate is recycle

What are the Properties of Polycarbonate?

Polycarbonate has excellent physical properties including:

Melting point: 220-230℃

Density: 1.2g/cm3

Security Description: inedible

Available Temperature: -40℃ to 135℃

Heat Deflection Temperature (HDT): 135℃

Tortuosity Radio: 1.585 ± 0.001

Light Transmissivity: 90% ± 1%

Pyroconductivity: 0.19W/mK

Linear Expansivity: 3.8×10-5 cm/cm℃

Thermal Coefficient Expansion: 65×10-6

What are the Disadvantages of Polycarbonate?

Polycarbonate also has some disadvantages.

  • Low fatigue strength, poor stress cracking resistance, sensitive to the notch, easy to produce stress cracking.
  • Polycarbonate has poor abrasion resistance. Some polycarbonate devices for wear-prone applications require special surface preparation.

How is polycarbonate made?

Polycarbonates are easily worked, molded, and thermoformed. There are common methods to produce polycarbonate include:

  • injection molding(the most important processing method)
  • extrusion
  • molding
  • blow molding
  • hot molding
  • printing
  • bonding
  • coating
  • machining

What can polycarbonate be used in?

Polycarbonates are interesting materials with good chemical resistance and some inertness during heat. Their transparency in the visible range permits numerous applications.

Construction industry(Indoor/Outdoor Applications):

Polycarbonate sheet has good light transmittance, impact resistance, and UV radiation resistance and its produces dimensional stability and good molding performance, which makes it have obvious technical performance advantages over inorganic glass traditionally used in the construction industry. They are used for both indoor and outdoor purposes because of their amazing light-filtering abilities and impact resistance. Polycarbonate is commonly used in nurseries and greenhouses due to its ability to withstand UV rays and heat.

Typical examples of applications of construction are within:

The application of polycarbonate in construction

Automotive manufacturing:

Polycarbonate has good impact resistance, thermal distortion resistance, good weather resistance and high hardness, so it is suitable for the production of various parts for cars and light trucks. According to the data of developed countries, the proportion of polycarbonate used in electrical and electronic and automobile manufacturing is 40% to 50%.

Typical examples of applications of automotive manufacturing are within:

  • lighting system
  • instrument panel
  • heating panel
  • defroster
  • polycarbonate alloy bumper, etc.
The application of polycarbonate in automotive manufacturing

Medical instruments:

Because polycarbonate products can be sterilized by steam, cleaning agents, heat and large doses of radiation without yellowing and physical performance degradation, they are widely used in artificial kidney hemodialysis equipment and other devices that need to operate under transparent, intuitive conditions and medical equipment that needs to be repeatedly sterilized. Typical examples of applications of medical instruments are within:

  • high-pressure syringes
  • surgical masks
  • disposable dental appliances
  • blood separators, etc.
The application of polycarbonate in medical instruments


With the rapid development of aviation and aerospace technology, the requirements for various components in aircraft and spacecraft continue to increase, which makes the application of PC in this field also increases. According to statistics, there are 2,500 polycarbonate parts used on a Boeing aircraft alone, and a single aircraft consumes about 2 tons of polycarbonate. On the spacecraft, hundreds of different configurations of polycarbonate parts reinforced with glass fiber and protective equipment for astronauts are used.

Typical examples of applications of aerospace are within:

  • Aircraft and spacecraft cabins, doorknobs, joysticks
  • helicopter tailfins
  • Batteries, bolts, and nuts for making rocket   
  • internal parts of rocket motors, etc.
The application of polycarbonate in aerospace

Packaging field:

A new growth point in the packaging sector is the re-sterilizable and usable water storage bottles of various sizes. Because polycarbonate products have the advantages of being lightweight, having good impact resistance and transparency, and having no deformation and transparency when washed with hot water and corrosive solutions, PC bottles have completely replaced glass bottles in some fields.

The application of polycarbonate in packing field

Electronics industry:

Because polycarbonate has good and constant electrical insulation in a wide temperature and humidity range, it is an excellent insulating material. At the same time, its good flame retardancy and dimensional stability make it form a broad application field in the electronic industry.

Typical examples of applications of the electronics industry are within:

  • Optical disc
  • telephone
  • electronic computer
  • video recorder
  • telephone switch 
  • capacitor
  • insulated bag
  • audio tape
  • color videotape, etc.
The application of polycarbonate in electronics industry

Optical lens

Polycarbonate occupies an extremely important position in this field due to its unique characteristics of high light transmittance, high refractive index, high impact resistance, dimensional stability and easy processing. Another important application area of polycarbonate in optical lenses is as a lens material for children’s glasses, sunglasses and safety glasses and adult glasses. The average annual growth rate of polycarbonate consumption in the world’s optical industry has been maintained at more than 20%, showing great market vitality.

  • camera
  • microscope
  • telescopes
  • optical testing instrument
  • movie projector lens
  • copier lens
  • infrared auto-focusing projector lens, etc.
The application of polycarbonate in optical lens

Why polycarbonate is used in construction?

If you’ve read our blog on the many uses of polycarbonate sheets, you already know the versatility of this popular material. From cladding, roofs to skylights, curtain walls, interior design. But polycarbonate’s usefulness goes beyond aesthetics. From the perspective of construction, engineers and DIYers choose it for other advantages. After reading the content, I hope you will consider these benefits before selecting material for future projects.

Light transmittance

the light transmittance of polycarbonate sheet can reach 88%, which is comparable to glass. The lighting is transparent and not dazzling, and it is safe and stable.

Impact resistance

The impact strength of polycarbonate is 20 times that of tempered glass, which can prevent falling objects from high altitudes. It is very suitable for overpasses, outdoor lighting sheds, carports, awnings, patio covers, etc.

Flame retardancy

Polycarbonate is a flame retardant grade, that is, B1 grade. The ignition point of polycarbonate is 580°C, and it will self-extinguish after leaving the fire. When burning, it will not produce toxic gas and will not contribute to the spread of fire.

Weather resistance 

The surface of polycarbonate has a co-extrusion layer with anti-ultraviolet rays(some higher quality polycarbonates have double-sided UV coating), which can prevent the resin from fatigue and yellowing caused by ultraviolet rays of the sun. It is the preferred material for the panels of agricultural greenhouses, garden greenhouses, commercial greenhouses and skylights, etc.

Greenhouse application in polycarbonate

Temperature resistance

Polycarbonate can be in a temperature range of -40 ℃ to 135 ℃, and the qualitative change of the product will not occur.

Heat insulation:

Both solid and multiwall polycarbonate can provide varying degrees of insulation. But due to the special internal structure of the multiwall polycarbonate, it is able to provide a higher degree of thermal insulation. For example twin-wall/ triple-wall/ four-wall/ X-structure/ honeycomb polycarbonate, each type has its own insulation characteristics and R-value to meet the needs of different applications.

Sound insulation

good sound insulation effect. It is one of the preferred materials for highway noise barriers in the world. (e.g., the sound intensity attenuation of 10mm-thickness twin-wall hollow polycarbonate is 19 decibels/the sound intensity of 16mm-thickness triple-wall hollow polycarbonate is attenuated by 21 decibels/the sound intensity of 6mm-thickness solid polycarbonate is 29 decibel). It has achieved good application space in the aspects of highway sound barriers, residential sound insulation boards, industrial workshop partition boards, modern office partition boards, etc.

Noise barrier application in polycarbonate

Good processability

Polycarbonate can be bent to a certain arc, and it can be cold bent at room temperature without heating. Therefore, it can be bent into round arches, semi-circular arcs, etc. according to usage scenarios or needs.

Environmental protection

Polycarbonate is a modern new green and environmentally friendly building material, odorless, non-toxic and non-radiative. No toxic substances are produced during production and use. The product can also be recycled, which can greatly save you cost.


The specific gravity of polycarbonate is only half of that of glass. Thus, it can save the cost of transportation, handling, installation and supporting the frame.

How much does polycarbonate cost?

Transparent hollow polycarbonate can not only be used as a covering material for greenhouses, but also as a suitable material for lighting in construction projects. As a common type of polycarbonate, it has been favored by many people. So how much does polycarbonate cost?

The price of polycarbonate is determined by many factors, such as:

The thickness of the required board, for example, multiwall polycarbonate can be 4mm to 20mm or even thicker,

Quality, that is, whether the raw material is new or recycled. Usually, the flexibility of the new material is good. If recycled materials are added, the color will become black and the board will be very brittle.

In addition, the price also depends on your customization requirements such as style, color, etc., quantity you want, etc.

At present, the price of hollow polycarbonate in the market is as follows:

  • The price of the hollow polycarbonate with poor product quality: increases according to the thickness, about 10-40 RMB per square meter.
  • The price of hollow polycarbonate with medium product quality: increases by thickness, about 30-80 RMB per square mete.
  • The price of high-grade hollow polycarbonate: according to the thickness, it is about 40-300 RMB per square meter.


This overview mainly discussed the concept, characteristics, types, toxicity, properties, advantages, disadvantages, mode of production, uses and price of polycarbonate. UNQ offers polycarbonate in various forms including sheets/kits. Contract us for a quote on your polycarbonate material needs.



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