Plastic Machining with Polycarbonate (PC) Plastic

Pete Poodiack, VP of Sales and Marketing at Controlled Fluidics, talks about Polycarbonate plastic and what makes it a popular material for plastic machining and fabrication.

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Hello and welcome. In this video, we're going to talk about Polycarbonate.

At Controlled Fluidics, this is one of our most popular materials because it's dimensionally stable and tough with a wide range of uses.

As a USP Class 6 material, polycarbonate is particularly popular for medical and in vitro applications. And due to its ability to resist methanol, ethanol, and bleach, it's often used in biopharma applications that require parts to be rinsed in alcohol.

You'll also see this material used as bullet-proof glass. However, although polycarbonate is impact resistant, it's an amorphous material that can craze of crack under mechanical or chemical stress. For example, overly tight fasteners.

Window or glazing-grade polycarbonate is for applications that require a thickness of .375 inches or less. This is an extruded material that ships with protective masking, and it's available in bronze, grey, and smoke tints.

For applications that need a thickness of .375 inches or more, you can use compression molded polycarbonate plates which are clear with a protective masking, or extruded plates which are rough and translucent with a purple or grey tint.

It also comes in rods and tubes. Rods are ground to size which creates a non-clear finish, and tubes are window clear. Polycarbonate can be transparent for optical parts.

Often people are trying to decide between acrylic and polycarbonate. There are a few significant differences.

Polycarbonate is stronger than acrylic. It can withstand continuous temperatures of 225 degrees Fahrenheit, while acrylic can only withstand up to 150 degrees. However, polycarbonate can't be heated and reshaped like acrylic. The thicker sheets are about 15% more expensive than acrylic, but glazing-grade polycarbonate tends to be less expensive.

The disadvantages of polycarbonate are that it wears poorly so it's not great for bearings or sliding applications. It can also expand under heat, and it scratches easily unless you add a scratch-fee coating.

This only covers the basics. Learn more about Polycarbonate Plastic on our materials page.