Monday, August 8, 2011

Plexiglass vs Lexan Matchup

I don't know how many times we have been asked the question - What's better: Plexiglass or Lexan?

Depends. What's the application? Let's match up some KEY properties to see:

Plexiglass (acrylic sheet) aka Lucite, Plexiglas, Perspex, Acrylite

  • 92% light transmission - clearest plastic sheet available - about 15% cheaper than polycarbonate
  • large variety of colors available 
  • light pipes through the sheet edges
  • does not yellow or discolor in the sun - 10 year warranty regarding 2% loss max.
  • optically water clear in all thicknesses
  • inert - no outgassing
  • thermoplastic - working temp of 180F continuous
  • burns very nicely after you remove a flame source - fire rating UL94HB
  • scratches - can be restored by sanding and buffing
  • resistant to breaking - when breaks pieces are large and dull edged
  • recyclable
  • easily bonds with solvent adhesives to itself and other plastics
  • hydroscopic (will absorb a small amount of moisture on side facing moisture (warps)
  • available up to 4" thick as a monolithic cast sheet, and thicker via custom casting
Lexan (polycarbonate sheet) aka Tuffak, Makrolon

  • 88% light transmission - very clear - about 15% more expensive than Plexiglas acrylic sheet
  • limited colors available (white, black, bronze, gray, sign colors)
  • light does not pipe through sheet edges
  • untreated sheet discolors in 5-7 years of sun exposure - UV coatings available to extend 15 years
  • inert
  • optically clear - loss of some light transmission in higher thicknesses (5% in 1/2")
  • thermoplastic - working temp of 275F continuous
  • self-extinguishing fire rated 94V0 - UL rating depending on thickness
  • scratches - cannot be restored by sanding and buffing
  • resistant to breaking (virtually impossible to break)
  • recyclable
  • easily bonds with solvent adhesives to itself and other plastics
  • bullet resistant grades are available - all grades of BR levels
  • hydroscopic (will absorb a small amount of moisture on side facing moisture (warps) and therefore difficult to thermoform without pre-drying
  • available up to 1/2" thick as monolithic extruded sheet, up to 2" as a molded sheet

Plexiglas Acrylic Sheet:
Safety glazing (up to 17 times stronger than glass)
Boat windows and hatches
Machine Guards and Electrical covers
Display cases
Brochure holders
Picture Frames
Anywhere you need a clear, impact resistant, easy to cut and maintain sheet

Polycarbonate Sheet:
Safety glazing (unbreakable)
Bus Windows
Machine Guards and Viewing ports
Anywhere you need a clear, unbreakable, high working temperature, easy to cut sheet

Now you're armed and dangerous - so when you talk to your plastics professional, you can ask great questions about your needs


  1. Thanks for sharing such great post. I really found useful information here.

  2. Lexan Polycarbonate Sheet has excellent sound proofing quality. This material can be used as partitions in offices or for cubicle making. These sheets have excellent weathering properties and hence can be used in any temperature and climatic conditions. They find suitability as great Bulletin boards and also have usage in Signage Lamp Box. They are also suitable in hospitals as partitions. These boards are available several soothing colors and hence suitable for any applications and gels well with interior d├ęcor. White Lexan Polycarbonate Sheets transmits light to the extent of eighty five to ninety percent and hence can be used as excellent roofing material.

  3. What would be the best product to make soundproof windows. The db from a neighboring bar's live music is 60 inside my home.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. I am looking for greenhouse application.

    1. Plexiglass (acrylic sheet) aka Lucite, Plexiglas, Perspex, Acrylite

  6. I also understand that Lexan is permanently damaged by common sunscreen so not very good for use in boats

    1. Hello Christopher,

      We have had very different experiences and recommend Lexan frequently for use in boating applications when you need an unbreakable panel, window, hatch, etc. The one warning that we do give customers before purchasing is that it will discolor over time from UV damage.

  7. Hello to all!

    I am looking for a thinnest possible sheet (1.5mm ~ 2.5mm), with the best transmission of JUST(!) visible light, and a maximum protection from UV(!), to protect my 26" monitor from a (let's say:) 'nearby direct sunlight'.
    It goes without saying, I would like the most 'equal' full range color transmittance.
    I do not care about the type of material, as long as it does the best ~ I just described.
    Every suggestion is more than welcome!

    Thank you very much, in advance.

    Kindest Regards!

  8. Hi-thanks for the question!

    You can find a full selection of uv filtering plexiglass on our website here: UV Filtering Plexiglass.

    We have as thin as 0.125" and will custom cut to your specifications.

  9. What would be the best plexi/poly, etc., to use for making a pianobar top (replacing the existing top) for strength and durability. Needs to be clear also -- for visual of down-lit piano harp & workings.

    1. 100% pure Plexiglas acrylic and Briallianize/SHINE Polish. If I had a baby grand piano that’s what I would do. When it gets scratched I can buff it out:

  10. What would be the best material to use in place of glass in French doors? Something less likely to be broken for security purposes. There's been multiple break-ins in my neighborhood & the primary point of entry in many of these is smashing the glass on back doors & opening the doors. So I'm looking to replace my current glass with something that gives the appearance of glass (transparent, blocks UV, durable, easy to clean) but won't be able to be broken with a rock or anything in general.

  11. You want to use UV/Abrasion Resistant Polycarbonate Sheets in 1/8 or 1/16 thickness.

    Polycarbonate is the best type of plastic to use for this application due to it's strength.

    I recommend the UV/Abrasion resistant Polycarbonate here because it will maintain it's clear appearance for at least seven years. "Standard" polycarbonate could begin to discolor after three years.

    We carry this material in multiple sizes/thicknesses and we can custom cut, drill holes, etc.

    If you have questions give us a call at 1-800-474-3688 or you can order directly from our website: ePlastics UV Resistant Polycarbonate Sheets.

  12. What would be the best application for a sunroom being attached to a home?

  13. Hi Jeff-

    Thanks for the question!

    Lexan Multiwall material is perfect for this application, you can see some examples and find more details here: ePlastics Multiwall Polycarbonate Sheets.

  14. I'm using half-inch lexan and wanted to know if this would be possible to use as a viewfinder window on my motor I am going with a turbo setup and wanted to be able to see inside my motor. I am wondering if the temperatures of my motor the lexan at all or if it would withstand engine bay temperatures and pressures

    1. Hi Robert-

      The lexan should be able to withstand engine bay temperatures, but it will probably not hold up to engine block temperatures.

      So we would not recommend using this on the engine block, but it should be okay if it's the engine bay.

  15. I’m looking at making a windshield for my Yamaha wolverine side by side. And was wondering which one would be the best to use. Thanks

  16. Hi Levi-

    We would recommend an Abrasion Resistant Polycarbonate for this application.

    You can purchase through our website here: Abrasion Resistant Polycarbonate Sheets.

    If you have any question give us a call at 858.560.1551.

  17. Our church stained glass windows are protected with Lexan, however after 20 years, they are discolored and hazy. From reading it says you cannot correct this. Is there anything that can be done to improve the condition albeit slightly?

  18. Unfortunately that is correct, once they have started to yellow you cannot reverse that process.

    If you're interested in a replacement solution give us a call at 858-560-1551 or view our selection of clear polycarbonate sheets online.