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Polycarbonate in Profile

Marlon ST, Multiwall Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate is a transparent thermoplastic which was first commercially developed in the 1950’s.  It is preferred for construction and glazing because of it’s excellent impact strength, optical clarity and wide working temperature range.

Material Facts

Polycarbonate's versatility makes it excellent for creating functional, as well as aesthetically pleasing products. It can be easily moulded and dyed in hundreds of colours - for products from car mirror housings to mobile phone coverings to microwaveable containers, and can also be perfectly transparent, making it ideal for use in glazing applications and rooflights.

Transparency, excellent toughness, thermal stability and a very good dimensional stability make Polycarbonate (PC) one of the most widely used engineering thermoplastics. Compact discs, riot shields, vandal proof glazing, baby feeding bottles, electrical components, safety helmets and headlamp lenses are all typical applications for PC.

Polycarbonate remains one of the fastest growing engineering plastics as new applications are defined; global demand for PC exceeds 1.5 million tonnes.

Material Science

Polycarbonate is composed of bisphenol A connected by carbonate-linkages in its backbone chain.

What are the characteristics of polycarbonate?

  • High strength making it resistant to impact and fracture
  • High heat resistance, making it ideal for applications that require sterilisation
  • Good dimensional stability which permits it to retain its shape in a range of conditions
  • Good electrical insulation properties
  • Biologically inert and readily recyclable
  • Excellent processability
  • Transparency and optical clarity
  • Flame retardancy and excellent fire performance

Material Usage

Polycarbonate is a versatile, tough plastic used for a variety of applications, from bulletproof windows to compact disks (CDs). The main advantage of polycarbonate over other types of plastic is unbeatable strength combined with light weight. Polycarbonate is nearly unbreakable. Bulletproof windows and enclosures as seen inside banks are often made of polycarbonate.

The largest application for PC is in the optical media market (i.e. usage in computer and audio compact discs). This is followed by an assortment of sheeting and glazing applications. The rest of the market consists of electrical and electronics (hosting applications in the business machine and telecommunications market), followed by transportation (including automotive), appliances, packaging, and other miscellaneous uses.

Some typical uses of Brett Martin's brand, Marlon polycarbonate include:

  • dome rooflights
  • flat, curved ot pitched rooflights
  • conservatory glazing
  • vertical glazing
  • sound barriers
  • bullet proof glazing
  • safety glazing
  • fabrication

Environmental Impact

Emissions to the environment from the production of polycarbonate are extremely low. It is produced in closed processes (meaning the material is piped from one closed vessel to another) with careful emission treatment practices.

Long life expectancy products, which are expected to last and be used for years, are typical for polycarbonate. Many applications even help to save resources, such as light weight polycarbonate containers that reduce fuel consumption during transport, lightweight and aerodynamic automotive parts that reduce fuel consumption, and multi-wall sheets which are heat insulating and contribute to energy savings.

At the end of a polycarbonate product´s life it can be recovered, recycled or disposed of safely.

Industry Resources/Links


Plastics Industry

Polycarbonate Roofing Associations