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What are Polycarbonate Panels?

By Kate Monteith
Updated May 17, 2024
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Polycarbonate panels are manufactured out of a hard plastic polymer substance known as Bisphenol A (BPA). Polycarbonate makes an excellent substitute for glass or acrylic, and there are a multitude of uses for panels made of polycarbonates. From the thin plastic lenses found in UV-protective sunglasses, to the thick, bulletproof windows used in security vehicles, these panels play an important role in safety and environmental protection.

Polycarbonate plastic is moldable, durable, lightweight, flame resistant, shatterproof, and energy efficient. One of its best properties is high-impact resistance, which can be more than 200 times greater than tempered glass. Polycarbonate panels are extremely weather resistant, will not yellow in harsh sun, and recyclable. Ridged sheets of polycarbonate are often installed over walkways, patios and terraces to filter and reduce ultraviolet sunlight, as well as provide rain and snow protection. They are also used in fencing, providing a secure barrier that is practically indestructible.

Polycarbonate sheets can be as clear as glass, translucent, or completely opaque, depending on the specific use. The panels can be flat or corrugated, rigid or flexible, thick or thin. Manufacturers offer various grades of glazing for polycarbonate panels designed for exact uses. There are glazing grades that provide static control and fire resistance for use around combustible materials, as well as sign-grade, bullet-resistant, hurricane-resistant, and several other grades of glazing.

Farmers and ranchers have found many good uses for polycarbonate panels. Hard plastic is often used as a structural material for agricultural outbuildings and energy-efficient greenhouses. Pole barns topped with corrugated panels are a common sight on horse ranches and cow farms. Hard plastic panels may also be installed as skylights in a barn to provide a natural lighting source during daylight hours. Additionally, polycarbonate sheets can be installed vertically to act as wall units. Semi-opaque, plastic walls allow light and warmth to reach horses, cows and other farm animals, while obscuring the outside view.

Home decorators have also discovered some pleasing uses for panels made of this type of plastic. BPA plastics are manufactured in a variety of designer colors and textures, and may be cut to fit any size. Plastic panels may be installed as a lightweight room divider, or inserted into kitchen cabinet doors as an alternative to breakable glass. The uses are practically unlimited, and manufacturers and consumers are coming up with new ways to use polycarbonate panels nearly every day.

AboutMechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon946587 — On Apr 20, 2014

You would need to take into account the sensors used in smartphones (primarily the proximity sensor and light sensor), since the thickness of the screen changes, the sensors will be affected. You would need to recalibrate the sensors each time the thickness of the screen changes as different levels of light will now be reaching the sensors.

By anon286949 — On Aug 23, 2012

The phone will be outdated quicker than the need to rip the extra layers off! --Steve

By CGutierrez — On Sep 19, 2011

I am working on a project of mine. I am trying to create a screen for touch screen phones that is nearly indestructible. I understand polycarbonate is used for the outer shell of the phone it self but why not a whole screen made of different layers of polycarbonate that can be removed as wear and tear come over time. if I could put together a significant amount of "Poly" in layers, wouldn't this make it stronger in some sort, and then being able to remove the layer simply by using a substance that can remove the damaged layer without doing any harm to the underlayer. Of course, after five layers you would notice the depth of the screen has gone down but, it beats spending 300-500 dollars on the retail price of the phone or for those with insurance a 100 dollar deductible.

Thinking out loud here, many people have tried it but haven't gone all the way through with it, please need some advice. Should I give this a shot? or simply give up, expert advice would be greatly appreciated.

I am 19 and work for a prime contracting company and I have many ideas but my lack of income does not allow me to go through with my ideas, maybe investors would show this to companies that take chances and help me out!

By anon154915 — On Feb 22, 2011

polycarbonate sheets are best in use nowadays. They are lightweight, transmit light are durable and have a long life.

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