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Polycarbonate is a high-performing thermoplastic that is widely used in building and construction products, from windows and skylights to wall panels and roof domes to exterior elements for LED lighting. Polycarbonate has a number of qualities that make it useful in these applications – it is lightweight and durable, with high optical clarity, high-impact and high-heat resistance, as well as excellent flammability resistance.
Below are some of the many building applications that take advantage of the high performance of polycarbonate:
Polycarbonate can be used in place of glass in a variety of window and skylight applications. Polycarbonate panels and sheets allow natural light to enter a building, and they can also be tinted, reducing the sunlight that reflects inside a building and helping to minimize interior cooling costs in the summer. Depending on the gauge, a typical window- and roof-glazing application using solar-control IR multi-wall polycarbonate sheet can help to reduce interior heat, resulting in energy savings in a temperature-controlled environment.
From opaque cladding panels to canopies, barrel vaults, skylights, translucent walls and signage, roof domes and louvers, polycarbonate sheet products are designed and available in a wide range of thicknesses, structural strengths and configurations that also meet LEED® requirements. ( Learn about LEED Pilot Credits here ). Polycarbonate can be formed into a variety of complex shapes using thermoforming, a heat-based thermoplastic shaping technique. Polycarbonate sheet also can be cold-line bent similar to metal. A variety of processes to shape polycarbonate facilitate many building features, from stressed curves for arches to simple paneling.
Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting is a top choice for illuminating homes and businesses, offering energy efficiency, durability and long life. As an exterior element for LED lighting, polycarbonate plastic is sturdy, and its crystal-like clarity holds up over many years. Other benefits of polycarbonate plastic in LED lighting include heat resistance, transparency, impact resistance, low flammability, and increased energy efficiency.
Polycarbonate is used in security glazing—strengthening prisons, guard booths, bank teller shields, convenience stores, hurricane shutters, hockey rink surrounds and more. Specifically, polycarbonate’s impact strength makes it an excellent choice for security applications, including blast and bullet-resistant glazing. Clear as glass, it also presents an advantage over alternatives such as wire glass and metal screens. When used in a multi-wall format, polycarbonate provides significant insulation, with resulting energy efficiency benefits. When treated with solar control technology, polycarbonate also provides protection from IR radiation and can also increase energy efficiency.
Polycarbonate is used extensively in sports stadium roofs to protect fans from bad weather – and let the game go on – while allowing in natural light and saving energy at the same time.
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