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 décor. 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.