Polycarbonate is a versatile and reliable material that has the impact resistance of plastic and the clarity of glass. Polycarbonate is highly resistant to elements such as acids, oils, greases, and changes in humidity, and are thus a highly recommended material for more demanding applications. Tubing made from polycarbonate is an adequate substitute for applications in which the conditions would not be suitable for acrylic tubing. These applications include pressure chambers, food chutes, or heavier products. Polycarbonate tubes provide excellent insulation, and are highly resistant to high temperatures and flame. The tubes can be sawed, cut, drilled, machined, and easily joined with adhesives or solvents.
Polycarbonate a suitable substitute for glass, and a highly sought-after material for the design and fabrication of various items across many industries. These many items include compact disks, bulletproof windows, LED tubing, flow lines, electronics packaging, data storage, construction material, and medical equipment. One specific example is the vision industry, in which polycarbonate plays a large role. Polycarbonate is transparent, incredibly strong, and has a high refractive index. A high refractive index is a type of measurement that is used to gauge a substance’s ability to bend light. All of these characteristics make polycarbonate the most popular material to create corrective lenses in the industry today. Other industries in which polycarbonate tubing is ideal for manufacturing various components are the aerospace, automotive, and architectural industries.
Polycarbonate tubes are manufactured through the extrusion process. The extrusion process utilizes several components: a conveyance channel that features heating elements and a screw mechanism; a hopper that hangs overhead and holds the raw material; and a die which is located at the end of the conveyance channel that shapes the plastic into a tubular configuration. In the first step of the process, the raw material is emptied from the hopper into the conveyance channel. The turning screw mechanism and heating elements within the channel apply heat and friction to reduce the raw material, or stock, to a molten state. The screw mechanism forces the molten stock through the die, and it takes on a tubular shape. Once the newly formed tube has cooled, it is either sent for additional processing or prepared for immediate shipment.
Polycarbonate tubes are cost effective and energy efficient to fabricate. They can be as transparent as glass, can be manufactured in a variety of colors and levels of transparency, is resilient, and serves as a fantastic insulating material. In addition to its incredible strength and insulative properties, polycarbonate tubes are light in weight, making them useful in applications that are weight-sensitive. Tubing can also be made from other materials such as acrylic and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Both acrylic and polycarbonate are reliable materials. They are half the weight of glass and have a high amount of clarity, but there are some characteristics where one is better than the other. While both materials are more resistant to impact than glass, polycarbonate is approximately 250 times stronger than glass, while acrylic is a mere 17 times stronger. While acrylic can handle a temperature range from -30 degrees Fahrenheit (approx. 34.4 degrees Celsius) to 190 degrees Fahrenheit (approx. 87.8 degrees Celsius).
Polycarbonate usually will not crack when undergoing drilling, even if drilled close to its edges by a standard drill bit. Acrylic, on the other hand, will crack if drilled close to the edge, or if drilled by a drill bit that is not designed for plastic. While it is possible for acrylic to slowly burn, polycarbonate has much lower flammability, and is better suited for areas where flames may be present. Polycarbonate has a much higher chemical resistance than acrylic. While both materials are easy to clean, polycarbonate requires less specific cleaners than acrylic. While mild soap and water is best for acrylic, polycarbonate can be cleaned with harsher chemicals such as ammonia.
There are several cases where acrylic is advantageous over polycarbonate. Polycarbonate has a light transmittance of 88 percent, while acrylic has a light transmittance of 92 percent. Polycarbonate cannot be polished to restore clarity or to smooth out the edges, but acrylic can. Acrylic can handle heat bending better than polycarbonate. Polycarbonate tends to cost 35% more than acrylic. Therefore, recommended that you familiarize yourself with the requirements of your application so you acquire a suitable material without overspending.
As resilient as polycarbonate tubing is, it must be handled with care to ensure that it is used correctly. In addition, the tubes can be susceptible to abrasion and scratching. However, this problem can be easily prevented with the application of a hard coating to the tube’s surface.
More Polycarbonate Tubing Information
Polycarbonate Tubing – GSH Industries, Inc.
Polycarbonate Tubing – GSH Industries, Inc.
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