Polycarbonate: A Versatile Material

When we talk polycarbonate, we typically mean bullet-resistant polycarbonate which has a variety of virtues including: a) UL protection levels 1-3; b) Standard abrasion resistant coating for durability; and c) Excellent resistance to forced entry. In fact, a sheet of polycarbonate can withstand an hour of beating with a sledgehammer before it breaks.

However, polycarbonate has many other uses outside of the security industry. The qualities that make polycarbonate an excellent material for securing a facility – lightweight, strong, great impact resistance – are the same qualities that make it a valuable resource for everyday applications as well.

Can You Read, This? You may have Polycarbonate to Thank

If you’re reading this blog through eye glasses, you could be wearing polycarbonate. Because of its highly refractive nature (ability to bend light) and its ability to be manufactured into various shapes without cracking, it’s an ideal material for eye glass lenses. In addition, polycarbonate is an extremely lightweight material in comparison to other plastics and can withstand a high level of deformity without being damaged. For these reasons, polycarbonate is the most widely used material for safety glasses, children’s eyewear, and rimless eye glasses, where the lenses are attached directly to the frames with drill mountings. Polycarbonate is also used in higher end sunglasses with an added filter to block ultraviolet rays. Just as with bullet-resistant polycarbonate, eye glass lenses made of polycarbonate are offered with a scratch-resistant coating to guard against everyday wear and tear.

The Sweet Sound of Polycarbonate

Your favorite music, burned onto a “plastic” compact disc (CD), is actually brought to you by polycarbonate. A spiral track is molded into the polycarbonate on one side of the disc and as data burns to the CD, a series of pits form in the track. The thin metal layer on the other side of the CD is aluminum or, in rare cases, gold. This shiny layer is what reflects the laser that is used to read or write to a disc. While CDs are highly susceptible to scratches, they can often be repaired with a little careful polishing due to the durability of the material.

Other Uses for Polycarbonate

CDs and eye glasses are just two of the everyday uses for polycarbonate. Cell phone companies, such as Apple and Nokia, use polycarbonate to achieve a unibody phone design. The medical industry uses polycarbonate for various IV connection components, including the flexible tubing itself. Other products made of polycarbonate include car headlights and the Clear Blue Hawaii Molokini two-person kayak. This incredibly versatile material has advanced several industries, from automotive and construction to medical and telecommunications, taking the term “plastic” to a whole new level.


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