Ultimate Guide for Acrylic Vs. Polycarbonate

What Is Acrylic?

Acrylic is a sort of plastic that is solid, stiff, and optically clear translucent. It has excellent strength and stiffness. Apart from that, it is simple to fabricate, adheres well to adhesives and solvents, and thermoforms easily. Normally, it can be made to plexiglass sheet, acrylic rod, and acrylic tube.

Acrylic is best known as the most convenient alternative to glass. Its ultra-level of light transmission and transparency with incredible strength makes it a better alternative for glass applications.

What Is Polycarbonate?

Polycarbonate is also a solid and clear plastic with excellent stiffness like acrylic. Due to its visual clarity, it is widely used in applications like Machine guards, signs, mask shields, skylights, and POP displays. Magnesium, carbon, and calcium are used to prepare polycarbonate sheets.

Acrylic vs Polycarbonate

To differentiate between acrylic and polycarbonate, we need to understand their properties specifically. Although in terms of components and applications, they are often similar.

Let’s find out how we can differentiate them considering their properties.

Durability and Strength

During the production phase, polycarbonate is more durable, whereas acrylic can bend when heated. Contrarily, polycarbonate can be molded in cold temperatures or bent without the use of heat.

Both are strong and provide impact resistance. But as exposed to stress, acrylic cracks more readily than polycarbonate.


Acrylic outperforms polycarbonate when it comes to transparency because it allows you in more light with a light transmittance of 92 percent versus 88 percent for polycarbonate.

Both are effective for glazing. However, acrylic can be polished to restore its transparency, whereas polycarbonate cannot.

Scratch Resistance

Acrylic is more scratch-resistant compared to polycarbonate. One of the best parts is-it is more resistant to UV light and does not turn yellow. On the other hand, polycarbonate can turn yellow over time and is more susceptible to scratches.

Chemical Reactions

When you consider the chemical tolerance, polycarbonate wins. But for abrasive cleaners, it is not often resistant. In this case, Acrylic is better at resisting.

Gasoline Resistance

Most of the manufacturers prefer acrylic for this property. It is resistant to gasoline and ensures a lower chance of burning. Polycarbonate is less resistant to gasoline than acrylic.


One of the useful features of acrylic is its smooth, shiny exterior. When manufacturers prefer the exterior glow on the finish, acrylic provides the best.

Providing more detail in sign design and color scheme, acrylic lighted sign panel may be a big plus. Although, polycarbonate has an appealing exterior glow as well.


Polycarbonate is more flexible than acrylic. Because it can be easily bent without using heat, on the other hand, acrylic needs heat for bending.


You can clean both acrylic and polycarbonate naturally and comfortably. Just need to use a microfiber or a piece of fabric made of cotton. But for acrylic, you need warm soapy water. Whereas for polycarbonate, you have to use cleaners of organic additives that are more abrasive.


When it comes to affordability, acrylic is normally less expensive than polycarbonate. To be very exact, it is 30% less cheap.

Pros and Cons of Acrylic


  • Excellent transparency;
  • Easy for machining;
  • Can be polished, both for scratches and clean edges;
  • Provides better adhesive bonding strength;
  • Lightweight;
  • Provides shinier outlook;
  • Affordable for manufacturing;


  • During drilling or impact, it’s more likely to break;
  • In some cases, it is more rigid than needed;
  • Dangerous for open flames;

Pros and Cons of Polycarbonate


  • Provides excellent durability;
  • It is non-flammable and can tolerate high temperatures;
  • It’s more malleable than plastic and can be molded at room temperature;
  • Flexible to make any shape at room temperature;


  • Less scratch resistant;
  • Polishing is tough;
  • It may easily be dented;

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Which One Is Better For You and Why?

Both acrylic and polycarbonate are popular and clear plastics to use for the manufacturing processes. So the question is which one is better? Well, it depends on your project requirement and preferences.

  • If you want to have cost-effective material, acrylic is a safer choice, no doubt;
  • Most manufacturers prefer a sleek appearance and improved aesthetics. If you want so, acrylic is for you. Apart from that, it offers you a variety of colors;
  • Durability is a major consideration for finalizing materials. If you prefer a durable piece, polycarbonate is better than acrylic. Although both are durable, polycarbonate provides more;
  • In the above section, we have mentioned acrylic is more scratch-resistant. So it would be better than polycarbonate in terms of scratches. Moreover, it has better resistance to UV lighting as well;
  • If you want to have a material that can endure extreme temperatures, polycarbonate is best. Because polycarbonate has higher heat tolerance and has a working temperature of 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Oppositely, acrylic’s working temperature is 180 degrees Fahrenheit;
  • Acrylic is the best option for transparency and you can easily cut according to your project requirement;

We recommend both materials; actually, it depends on your situation and project requirement. So try to fix your needs first and then choose accordingly.

What To Consider When Making Your Decision?

Before purchasing a suitable one for your project, you need to compare the properties of both materials. We have made a clear comparison for you.

You can consider these for your project. Furthermore, the application plays a bigger role in deciding whether to use acrylic or polycarbonate. For your consideration, here are some perfect applications for both kinds:

Acrylic Plastic Application

  • Insulations;
  • Projects for making crafts;
  • Showcases in stores;
  • Glass and window replacements;
  • Tubes and rods;
  • General alternative for glass;

Polycarbonate Plastic Application

  • Bullet-proof windows;
  • Molds for clear casting;
  • Windows in greenhouses;
  • High-temperature models;
  • Roofing boards;


So you see, in terms of physical and chemical properties, both acrylic and polycarbonate have distinctions. Moreover, their applicability plays a huge role.

Your requirements and preferences are the consideration to be focused on purchasing. However, both are popular and effective enough to meet all your needs.

UVACRYLIC is a leading manufacturer of acrylic sheets in China, which provides plexiglass sheets in all forms and custom acrylic. The parent company-UVPLASTIC, which is a top manufacturer of polycarbonate sheets, and integrated machining services.