Sales of acrylic (polymethyl methacrylate) and polycarbonate represent most of the “see thru” plastics that are sold. Both are considered amorphous plastics and generally acrylic is considered a “commodity” plastic while polycarbonate is considered an “engineering” plastic. If the customer is simply concerned with display items, acrylic is usually the best choice since it is relatively easy to bend and/or bond as well as being the lesser expensive of the two. In addition, acrylic is available in a greater multitude of colors.


Polycarbonate has some to the following general advantages over acrylic:

  • Stronger
  • More Impact Resistant
  • Tougher
  • Able to withstand higher temperatures
  • More applicable structurally
  • More dimensionally stable
  • Easy to paint

Although impact resistant grades are available in acrylic, polycarbonate’s outstanding impact resistance is so much greater than acrylic that it is commonly used for applications such as machine guards or face guards. In addition, adaptations such a 20% glass filled polycarbonate, are used as bullet resistant panels.

In general, for standard sheet sizes, clear polycarbonate sheets cost about 50% more than acrylic.